Houston’s oldest restaurant passes the torch
HOUSTON, TX – There are few restaurants in town that can say they saw Houston grow up. From World War One to the depression to the ground breaking of the Astrodome to the city we know today. Fewer still who have done all that in just three generations of family. But then, Houston is just the kind of place where history happens, and for nearly a hundred years, Christie’s seafood has seen it all.
“Christie’s was open during the war,” General Manager Maria Christie says, “and back then everybody had a ration card, but at the restaurant you could get pats of butter, you could go to a restaurant and eat and get pats of butter whereas at home, the housewife had to use the ration card.”
The original location opened it’s doors on Galveston island in 1917 with ten stools and one fish sandwich. Ninety-seven years later the restaurant has grown up, but the sandwich that started it all is still on the menu.
“The bread is the same, it’s a butter-toasted hoagie bread, it comes with french fries.”
And while the restaurant has been in the family for three generations, the original owner wasn’t actually related. Chew on This: Theodore Christie, who started the business back in 1917, spent his entire life building the restaurant and had no children save for two immigrant brothers who had worked for him for years and whom he considered sons.
“He said, okay, I want you all to take my name,” Maria explains, “so my dad and Uncle Steve both changed their names to honor Mr. Christie. Well in 1968 Mr. Christie died.”
So the restaurant passed on. Until November of 2013 when Maria’s father, Jim Christie, died of complications during surgery. Now it’s up to her and her sisters to carry Houston’s oldest, continuously operating restaurant into the next 100 years.
“He was truly an amazing, amazing man,” Maria says, “and he would be so proud right now.”
And where else but Houston could a family this amazing come together and build something that’s lasted so long?