New Houston-area restaurant boasts waterfront views of Lake Conroe

Hunger Crush Cafe is also giving back through a partnership with the food bank.

Hunger Crush Cafe has a waterfront view of Lake Conroe.

Hunger Crush Cafe

As if living the lake life doesn't already sound appealing on Houston's 100-degree days, there is even more reason to venture north to Conroe this summer. An all-day restaurant, appropriately called Hunger Crush Cafe, is now open in Waterpoint Center, with views of Lake Conroe and a giving-back component.

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

Mary, a current Exxon employee, is a hospitality newbie, but Mike is a 32-year veteran of the wine industry. He started as a sales rep in Bryan-College Station, eventually moving to Houston as he developed his career on the distributing side, then put in nearly 20 years working with international wine brands.

After retiring in 2018, he found he had an ample amount of free time to follow a life-long dream. "I love to cook, and I have always wanted to open a restaurant," he said, admitting that his wife understandably questioned his decision. "Mary said: 'You retired from working, and now you want to open a restaurant—what's wrong with you!'"

Hunger Crush Cafe is an oasis within the Waterpoint development. 

Art Flores

A restaurant may be one of the most difficult businesses to run, but Mike was ready to take on the challenge. The Keltons, former Katy residents, made the move to the back side of Lake Conroe when Exxon relocated its campus to Spring, so they could be closer to Mary's job. With three years remaining until Mary joins her husband in retirement, Mike got a head start with the biz, building the restaurant from the ground up at Waterpoint.

"I like to call it whimsically elegant," Mike said, acknowledging the area's relaxed lake lifestyle. "There are design cues which lend itself to a nice-looking restaurant, but we understand it is on the lake, so we are casual in our approach."

The 115-seat dining room is open and bright, with one wall devoted to a lake-inspired art installation by local artist Jodi "Shen" Goldman-Hallford. Another 30 seats are spread out on the covered waterfront patio. Mike hopes the patio will be a hangout spot year-round with the addition of ceiling fans and infrared heaters.

Hunger Crush is slinging breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. Visitors spending a day on the lake can venture in for breakfast or weekend brunch before hitting the water, or simply fuel up with grab-and-go items like bagels with cream cheese, house-made chicken salad, fruit cups and bottled beverages. For those looking for a full-service dining experience, there is plenty of good eatin' (and drinkin') to get excited about.

The Hunger Crush Burger is built with bacon, onions and 8 ounces of melty cheddar.

Art Flores

The Hunger Crush burger, made with 8 ounces of shredded cheddar, bacon, onions, and a house-made "sweet thang" sauce, has quickly become a house favorite. "The cheese spills onto the grill and caramelizes," Mike said. "It becomes like a top hat of cheese—you can't even see the patty."

Other hearty plates include meatloaf, smoked pulled pork on brioche, pesto chicken with grilled vegetables and cilantro rice, and breakfast standouts like bananas foster pancakes and chilaquiles with shredded chicken.

Not surprisingly, the restaurant has a notable wine list, made up of domestic and imported selections curated by Mike, including some Texas bottles. In the way of beer, Houston breweries are well represented, with more than 12 varieties from B-52 Brewing, Saint Arnold, Karbach and more.

As Mike and Mary work towards settling into the Conroe restaurant community, they hope to "crush hunger" through a partnership with the Montgomery County Food Bank. The couple has pledged to donate a portion of proceeds from a shareable dish called the Hunger Board to the food bank. For every board sold, the equivalent of 2 and a half meals is donated to the organization.

"If I'm going to take money from the community, then I need to give back to the community," said Mike. "I have a hard time simply making money from a restaurant, with my employees working as hard as they do. I think it is a responsibility of business owners to help the community which supports them."

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

Art Flores

Currently, diners can give the Breakfast Hunger Board a try—a cutting board is topped with eggs made your way, bacon, sausage, breakfast potatoes, and toasted brioche for two for $19.95. Spending a lazy day at the lake never felt so good.

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

Hours: Sunday-Thursday 8 a.m.-3 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 8 a.m.-9 p.m.