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Back in 2001, thirtysomethings Charles Clarkand Grant Cooper were out-of-the-box-thinking game-changers when they opened their Ibiza Food & Wine Bar. They remain so today, having announced this morning — still some 6½ months before the fact — that they will close the long-popular restaurant south of downtown on Louisiana Street. The final day of service will be Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020, Cooper’s 55th birthday.

“And I’m 57,” Clark, the chef, said, going on to explain that he doesn’t want to be rooted in the same spot, doing the “24-7 thing” anymore. “But I’m going to hit the ground running (after Ibiza goes dark), spending lots of time at our other restaurants, tweaking the menus, tweaking the front of the house. I enjoy that part. That’s a big part of who I am, too.”

Clark Cooper Concepts also operates Brasserie 19 in the River Oaks Shopping Center, Coppa Osteria(plus Punk’s Simple Southern Foodnext door) in Rice Village and The Dunlavy in Buffalo Bayou Park.

After gambling on Midtown — almost nobody was then aware the still-gritty neighborhood had such a name — Clark and Cooper built a tapas-friendly wine list of roughly 300 bottles with a consumer-friendly pricing model nobody had seen before, in Houston anyway. With only rare exceptions would markups exceed twice their wholesale cost for a bottle. Industry folk, not to mention Clark’s and Cooper’s new landlords, thought that they were crazy, that they’d were risking being out of business in a year, if not months. Profits from alcohol sales, they were reminded, make or break a restaurant.

Instead, they stubbornly launched a mini-revolution that similarly progressive thinkers like restaurateur Bill Floyd — first with Reef, now with Potente— and Chris Shepherd, who opened another Clark Cooper restaurant, the long-shuttered Catalan on Washington Ave. as the executive chef, happily copied with their own successful ventures.

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