The Storied Houston Restaurant Remains Local Favorite for Fresh, Homemade Food
HOUSTON (SEPTEMBER 2020) – Cleburne Cafeteria, a family-owned restaurant specializing in homestyle cooking using only the freshest produce and ingredients and homemade desserts, has stood the test of time since 1941. With almost 80 years of serving the Houston community, Cleburne’s prides itself on providing welcoming, comfortable environment where customers can enjoy the highest-quality food and service.
Cleburne Cafeteria was established in 1941 by Anabelle Collins and Martha Kavanaugh, and originally located on Cleburne Street at Fannin. In 1952, husband and wife, Nick and Pat Mickelis bought the restaurant, leaving many of the original recipes untouched while adding their own family dishes to the menu. In 1969, Cleburne Cafeteria made the move to its current location on Bissonnet, and today, Nick and Pat’s son, George Mickelis owns and runs the family restaurant. George was born and raised in the house above the original location and is proud to carry on the family tradition.
“We want each person who walks through our doors to feel like family when they sit down to enjoy their meal,” said George. “We don’t compromise on quality, and we take the time to make everything in-house daily from our breads and desserts to our sauces.”
Named “Best Cafeteria in America” by Food & Wine in 2019, Cleburne Cafeteria features a wide variety of menu items prepared from scratch in the kitchen daily by cooks that have been with the family for many years. Whether diners are looking to indulge or keep things healthy, the restaurant has something for everyone. Options include comfort food classics like chicken fried steak, meatloaf, fried chicken, steak, chicken and dumplings, and the most popular menu item year-round, turkey and dressing. Healthy options include items like fresh poached salmon, grilled chicken and tasty salad selections such as the Greek salad as a nod to the family’s heritage. Diners can choose from a variety of sides to accompany their entrée including macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, green beans, broccoli, black-eyed peas and many more. The rolls, cornbread and muffins are baked fresh every 30 minutes, and all of Cleburne’s pies, cakes, cobblers, puddings and tarts are made fresh daily as well. The restaurant offers customers an assortment of wine and beer to pair with their meal.
All of Cleburne’s meat is hand-selected, genuine USDA choice beef and is cut, trimmed and ground in house daily by the restaurant’s butcher. The poultry is delivered fresh daily on ice and is all-natural and never injected with any hormones or additives. Many of the seafood selections are hand-picked by Cleburne’s as well, delivered fresh every morning and filleted in house. The cafeteria never uses anything imitation, and vegetables are sourced from the farmer’s market daily, many times organically grown.
Upon arriving to the inviting building, customers can enjoy a unique display of the restaurant’s history in the lobby, then make their way through the serving line to select their dishes. Cleburne Cafeteria offers plenty of indoor seating and an outdoor patio to enjoy. Around the restaurant, the walls are covered by Nick Mickelis’ paintings. Some are originals that were rescued and restored after the two restaurant fires in 1990 and 2016, and others were re-created from photographs through technology and are now displayed on canvas which look similar to the originals. Most of Nick’s art comes from memories of Greece, and although he was a successful restaurateur, his paintings testify he remained an artist at heart.
“Our history is something we’re extremely proud of,” said George. “We’re excited to continue our commitment to delicious, quality food and superior service since 1941. We hope to continually grow our Cleburne Cafeteria community and have the chance to serve Houstonians for years to come.”
About Cleburne Cafeteria:
Founded in 1941, Cleburne Cafeteria serves fresh, home-cooked meals and desserts for people of all ages. With almost 80 years of service, Cleburne Cafeteria continues to pride itself on offering fresh, high-quality foods made with mostly organic ingredients. Almost everything Cleburne offers is made in-house daily by cooks that have been with the family for years. The beloved Houston restaurant has been in the Mickelis family for over 70 years and offers guests a welcoming, comfortable environment and a dedication to food and service. Cleburne Cafeteria is located at 3606 Bissonnet, Houston, TX 77005. For more information, please call 713.667.2386 or visit https://cleburnecafeteria.com/. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
George Mickelis – Owner, Cleburne Cafeteria
George Mickelis is the current owner of Cleburne Cafeteria. His parents, Nick and Pat Mickelis, purchased Cleburne Cafeteria from Anabelle Collins and Martha Kavanaugh in 1952. The Mickelis family lived in a house located above the original location, and George was born and grew up there with his sister Angela. From the time he could walk, George helped his parents in the restaurant and quickly realized he wanted to take over the family business one day.
George graduated from the University of Houston’s Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management and became active in the restaurant’s day to day activities. In 1989, after his father passed away, George took over the restaurant to carry on the family tradition. He is proud to continue running Cleburne Cafeteria in the same way his parents ran it when he was younger.
George has four children, Athena, Nickolas, Anthony and Matthew, and is hopeful they will carry on the Cleburne Cafeteria tradition.