"Two hot, new bars set to open downtown" shouted the headline on Chron.com last Friday as their entertainment portal, 29-95 (now less vulgar, still pretty uninteresting however), published a glorified press release from the folks that brought you Anvil Bar & Refuge (and their high prices and brilliant scheme to ensure obscure liqueurs don't go to waste) announcing the opening of two new concepts downtown.
The headline for the story itself however was a little more muted.
Clumsy Butcher to open new wine/beer bar on Main St. Alison Cook, 29-95 a Chron.com blog
Ironically, this new wave of bars and party spots opening downtown is reminiscent of the wave of openings that occurred right before Houston's, now infamous, SuperBowl event. Of course, soon after Janet Jackson revealed herself to the world.........*crickets*
But, this being Houston and Houston being ever the optimist about downtown drinking and revelry here we go again. Maybe it means something that a majority of the new space opening has a connection to Bobby Heugel and maybe it doesn't. Right now he and Brian Caswell seem to be the two owners who, with the obvious exception of Stella Sola, have the magic touch when it comes to making recycled concepts stick.
I think part of this is because both operators have learned to expand their demographic appeal beyond Houston's FoodBorg. The problem with catering to the collective is that the collective soon grows bored with your establishment and, having run out decent folks who just want to grab a cocktail without being regaled with the history of the British rum industry by some know-it-all food blogger who might (or might not) moonlight occasionally in one of the city's print outlets,(or, they might have a job at said publication blogging about food, who knows?) decides to move on to the newest and greatest bauble in order to ensure the great unwashed stay away from there as well. The notable exception to this is the aforementioned Anvil, which seems to remain a favorite of the Borg while continuing to draw from the general population. I attribute this to the fact that no one has been able to approach Anvil's concept with anything resembling the success of Heugel. Sure there are other high-concept cocktail places in Houston, but none pull it off as well.
Now you might think that I find all of these bars and restaurants opening to be silly. That I might think they're whistling past the graveyard trying to reinvigorate a downtown area that's notoriously barren after office hours.
You'd be wrong. I think having a block of bars/restaurants on Main St. is a great idea and I wish the proprietors of the new establishments much luck in their happy hour catering to the downtown business-person. If they can also perform the function of containing the FoodBorg to downtown during nights and week-ends all the better as this would mean being able to enjoy a beer at Christian's Tailgate without some foodie telling you the origin of the hops and that they know the brewmeister personally.
All that said, "Hot, new bars"? Before they even open?
C'mon ChronBlog, you can do better than that.