The Refuge Steakhouse and Bourbon Bar in Creekside is the culmination of a life-long ambition, a desire for quality and a family passion project. Mark Zientek and his daughter, Autumn, are the talented and experienced restauranteurs behind its sleek, but casual-elegant vibe.

Mark Zientek and daughter Amy Zientek, owners of The Refuge Steakhouse & Bourbon Bar in The Woodlands, TexasMark Zientek and his daughter, Autumn Zientek Sipes

This Creekside bar and restaurant has a selection of over 250 whiskies, the largest selection of bourbon in north Houston. The restaurant also has a butchery room on-site, where quality meats are carefully prepared. Their signature dish is delicious sizzling wood-fired steaks, the perfect pairing to suit the extensive bourbon list. The chef-driven menu with dishes made from scratch will keep you returning time and time again.

The Refuge Steakhouse & Bourbon Bar is a concept unlike anything else in The Woodlands, with a rustic ambiance that makes you feel right at home. Dark wood tones, cozy tables and an open kitchen add to its welcoming feel. You can enjoy live music on Fridays and Saturday on the outdoor patio. The restaurant opened in 2017, following the success of The Refuge Bar & Bistro, a craft cocktail bar on The Woodlands Waterway. The bistro was Mark’s first venture, which he ran alongside Autumn, and it has recently sold.

Inside of The Refuge Steakhouse and Bourbon Bar in The Woodlands, Texas

Mark Zientek started his career with The Woodlands Development Company and later at the Carlton Woods Country Club. With his vast experience in The Woodlands hospitality industry, he remembers a time when the restaurant scene was in its early infancy. “When I started in the industry, there were two restaurants in The Woodlands. At the time, we wondered if it could handle a third.” said Mark.

He watched the neighborhood grow over the years. He got to know the community's founder, George Mitchell, earlier in his career in hospitality. “I used to serve George breakfast in the morning,” Mark remembers.

Growing up in The Heights, Mark’s dream of opening a restaurant started at a young age. He wanted to create a concept with a more laidback atmosphere a little closer to his roots, with a strong emphasis on great service.

Steak and mashed potatoes at The Refuge Steakhouse & Bourbon Bar in The Woodlands, Texas

Cocktail at The Refuge Steakhouse & Bourbon Bar in The Woodlands, Texas

The Refuge Steakhouse & Bourbon Bar is the first of its kind in Creekside, a neighborhood previously known for family-friendly dining, not trendy whiskey lounges.

“The Woodlands has that small town vibe," said Mark Zientek. "It’s so important for us in the hospitality industry because we come across so many different people. We get to see people's birthday parties when they're kids, then later in life at their weddings. We watch families grow as they dine with us over the years.”

Next door, the family's third restaurant will open its doors this November. Mark’s daughter Autumn will manage Southern Ice Co, a separate concept, alongside her husband. “We have a very reasonably priced menu in a friendly atmosphere. Southern Ice Co. is all about southern hospitality. That is what makes us different from everybody else,” Autumn notes.

Southern Ice Co. will offer delicious comfort food, such as fried chicken and red beans and rice, and some lighter options too. It’s the perfect spot to bring the kids after sports practice, or to meet friends and watch a game.

The Zientek family have created long-lasting favorite spots for The Woodlands. As a family, they are unafraid to bring new ideas to The Woodlands’ dining scene.


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