Stuck on Sewer Line, Houston’s Oldest Bar Calls It Quits


Note: This story has been updated.

The Midtown joint long considered to be Houston’s oldest bar — except for that period 5 years ago when it closed for renovations —- closed down for good last night. This morning workers were removing furnishings from the building at 1006 McGowen St. and dismantling the front deck. Leon’s Lounge owner operator Pete Mitchell, who bought leased the establishment from the daughter of Leon Yarborough (the original Leon had bought it, as La Bomba, in 1947), had been arguing with his landlord about the building’s condition: “The sewer line, which Mitchell said he thought it would take ‘massive’ repairs to fix, was a principal sticking point,” he tells reporter Chris Gray.


Leon's Lounge, 1006 McGowen St., Midtown, Houston

The lease was due to expire at the end of January, but the last drinks were served last night.

Photos: James Glassman (interior); Peter K. (sidewalk)

Last Night at Leon’s

14 Comment

  • I thought Kay’s Lounge on Bissonnet was the oldest bar in town. It has the look.

  • Warren ‘s isn’t the oldest?

  • I thought La Carafe was,,,

  • WOW!!! Just wow H-town… You never cease to amaze me by how you p*ss away your history! I am in Las Vegas, Nevada for a builders conference and I doubt they would ever close Circus Circus, The Flamingo, Mirage, etc.

    I’m seriously disappointed to hear the parties involved could not work this out… The book “Learning from Las Vegas” really makes a lot of sense to me now…

    H-town will NEVER get it right!

  • Really Kinetcid? i don’t see anything sacrosanct about the Vegas real estate market. They’ve bulldozed plenty of their history in the name of redevelopment, and I don’t imagine any of the casinos you mentioned surviving the next boom in the cycle.

  • La Carafe’s building is believed to be the oldest standing commercial building still in use. But the bar itself hasn’t been around as long as Leon’s.

  • There is nothing special about this bar. It’s hardly historic. Buildings can be historic. Tenants, rarely so.

  • And comparing this to major Vegas casinos (which will be bulldozed the second it makes sense to) is a bad comparison.

  • I’ve spent a lot of time at Leon’s. Both before the current management and back when it was managed by Scarlette, Leon’s daughter and the current landlord. This is not even close to the first time Leon’s has closed. My guess is it will be re-opened by someone else, just like it always has been. Though the landlord is not willing to put any money into the building, so it will probably take a while.

  • Kineticd, you are being sarcastic, right? Buildings in Vegas are blown up all the time. Even ‘new’ ones. I remember when the closed down the desert inn and did a HUGE remodel. Only to have it blown up for the Wynn. I’ve been to Vegas 100’s of times since I started going almost 20 years ago. There is a miraculous amount of change in that city.
    Of all the example cities to use for places that respect history and don’t demo old buildings, you picked the worst :)

  • Many Vegas casinos have come down in great demolition spectaculars; see the last few minutes of Scorsese’s ‘Casino’, or do a quick look at YouTube.

  • pretty sure La Carafe dates back to the 50’s as well so it could at least soon take the “longest operating” title from Leon’s. not sure what really is the oldest in town though. apparently Kay’s was a number of things since 1939 before turning into Kay’s Lounge in 1962. there was some Houstorian page online with all the info.

  • Leons is just changing hands .Mitchells merely leasing Leons as my tenants..The mitchells were never owners.

  • To set the story straight..
    FACT: There is absolutely nothing wrong with anything at the bar I own .
    FACT: Leon’s Lounge has never been sold to anyone in 2007 0r 2010.
    FACT: My family has owned it all along
    FACT: I operated the bar until 2007 .
    FACT: I resorted to leasing it out due to my Mother’s failing health first in 2007 and then again in 2010
    FACT: I have no notices to repair from anybody
    FACT: Some people may be setting themselves up for a lawsuit making such claims.
    FACT: Leon’s is just changing hands and is not closing
    FACT: Journalists should be held responsible for accuracy in their reporting before publishing
    FACT: I am dedicated to seeing that Leoon’s never closes it’s doors to the public until my LAST Breath FACT: it is my mission to keep this legacy in remembrance my father Leon Yarborough the founder,of Leon’s Lounge
    FACT: way too much Drama being leaked to the press in an obvious attempt to inflict harm to Leons Legacy
    by the vacating tenants…they have had their flash in the pan or five minutes of fame time to move on…LOL!!