The New Houston-area restaurant features views of the Lake Conroe waterfront

As if living lake life doesn’t already sound appealing in Houston’s 100-degree days, there’s another reason to venture north to Conroe this summer. An all-day restaurant, appropriately called Hunger Crush Cafe, is now open in the Waterpoint Centre, with views of Lake Conroe and the give-back ingredient.

The lakeside restaurant is the brainchild of husband and wife duo Mike and Mary Kelton, who also operate two Texas locations at Sweet Paris Creperie and Treehouse Cafe in Magnolia.

Marie, currently an Exxon employee, is a hospitality apprentice, but Mike has been in the wine business for 32 years. Starting as a sales representative at Bryan-College Station, he eventually moved to Houston where he developed his career in the distribution side, then worked for nearly 20 years with international wine brands.

After retiring in 2018, he found that he had a great deal of free time to pursue a lifelong dream. “I love to cook, and I’ve always wanted to open a restaurant,” he said, admitting that his wife had understandably questioned his decision. “You’ve retired from business, and now you want to open a restaurant – what’s your problem!” said Mary.

Hunger Crush Café is an oasis within the Waterpoint development.

Art Flores

A restaurant might be one of the toughest businesses to run, but Mike was ready to take on the challenge. The Kelton family, former residents of Katy, moved to the backside of Lake Conroe when Exxon moved its campus to Spring, so they could be closer to Mary’s job. With three years left until Mary joins her husband in retirement, Mike has got a head start in the business world, building the restaurant from the ground up in Waterpoint.

“I like to call it oddly elegant,” Mike said, acknowledging the area’s laid-back lake lifestyle. “There are design cues that befit a nice looking restaurant, but we understand it’s on the lake, so we’re casual in our approach.”

The 115-seat dining room is open and bright, with one wall dedicated to a lake-inspired art installation by local artist Judy “Shane” Goldman-Halford. Another 30 seats spread out on the covered waterfront patio. Mike hopes the patio will be a year-round hangout with the addition of ceiling fans and infrared heaters.

Hunger Crush serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week. Visitors spending a day on the lake can venture to breakfast or weekend brunch before hitting the water, or simply enjoy takeaway items like bagels with cream cheese, homemade chicken salad, glasses of fruit, and bottled beverages. For those looking for a full-service dining experience, there’s plenty of good eating (and drinking) to get excited about.

The Hunger Crush burger is made with bacon, onions, and 8 ounces of melted cheddar cheese.

The Hunger Crush burger is made with bacon, onions, and 8 ounces of melted cheddar cheese.

Art Flores

The Hunger Crush burger, made with 8 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese, bacon, onions, and homemade “Sweet thang” sauce, is quickly becoming a home favorite. “Spill the cheese on the grill and it caramelizes,” Mike said. “You become like a hat of cheese – you can’t even see the pie.”

Other hearty dishes include meatloaf, smoked pork on brioche, pesto chicken with roasted veggies and cilantro rice, and breakfasts like banana pancakes and shellac with shredded chicken.

Not surprisingly, the restaurant has an outstanding wine list, consisting of local and imported selections curated by Mike, including some Texas bottles. In the beer route, Houston’s breweries are well represented, with over a dozen B-52 Brewing, Saint Arnold, Karbach, and more.

As Mike and Mary work to settle down in the Conroe restaurant community, they hope to “crush hunger” through a partnership with the Montgomery County Food Bank. The couple pledged to donate a portion of the proceeds from a shareable dish called The Hunger Board to the Food Bank. For each plate sold, the equivalent of two and a half meals is donated to the organization.

“If I’m going to get money from the community, I need to give back to the community,” Mike said. “I find it hard to simply make money from a restaurant, where employees work as hard as they do. I think it’s the business owners’ responsibility to help the community that supports them.”

A portion of the proceeds from each Hunger Crush bar sold is donated to the Montgomery County Food Bank.

A portion of the proceeds from each Hunger Crush bar sold is donated to the Montgomery County Food Bank.

Art Flores

Currently, diners can try The Breakfast Hunger Board – a cutting board topped with eggs your way, bacon, sausage, breakfast fries, and toasted brioche for two for $19.95. A lazy day at the lake has never been so good.

look for it: 15250 Hwy 105 W STE 160, Montgomery, TX 77356; (936) 224-7518

hours: Sunday – Thursday 8 am – 3 pm; Friday – Saturday 8 am – 9 pm

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