The Rice Hotel’s Storied State Bar, a Favorite Among Lawyers, Will Soon Turn into a Lawless Kitchen

State Bar at Rice Lofts, 909 Texas Ave., Downtown Houston

State Bar at Rice Lofts, 909 Texas Ave., Downtown HoustonThe State Bar and Lounge, which shut down this past weekend after more than 15 years in a storied space that was formerly home to the Capitol Club in the Rice Hotel, is about to undergo a “massive remodel,” a source tells Swamplot.

The members-only Capitol Club was once the haunt of a number of powerful and well-known attorneys, politicians and other powerful men in the city; according to KHOU’s Doug Miller, it was also the site of President Kennedy’s last drink (unless, of course, he polished off a few more daiquiris in his hotel room after his late-November 1963 visit). In its quasi-reconstruction and rebirth as a public establishment after the renovation of the Rice Hotel into the Rice Lofts in 1998, the spot maintained popularity among lawyers — especially the newly minted ones: Many would head to the State Bar to celebrate passing the state bar.

To judge it by its name, however, the new second-story venue now being planned there may have a slightly different set of guiding principles. A bar named Lawless Kitchen and Spirits will open in the space after renovations are complete, the source tells Swamplot.

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The Lawless Kitchen will feature cocktails, a “chef-driven” menu, and “will pay homage to the political, legal, and industrial history of the space,” the source writes. (Before the Rice Hotel was built in 1913, the same lot at the corner of Travis St. and Texas Ave. was the site of the Capitol of the Republic of Texas.) According to the source, the Lawless takeover had been plotted a while back, and was not prompted by the recent sale of the Rice Lofts (from Atlanta’s Post Properties to an entity connected to the Trammell Crow family in Dallas) or its new management (by Greystar).

According to the source, Lawless will be attempt to be a ”an updated, modern interpretation of what the original Old Capitol Club could very well have become, had it not closed down so very long ago.” “Trademark legalities” prevented the Lawless backers from using the Capitol Club name, “but the concept is still the same,” the source maintains. The owners’ plan for the Lawless venture is for the restaurant to ”restore the prestige and glamour of those days when Percy Foreman sat in his personal booth and brokered deals.”

Photos: KHOU

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6 Comment

  • I’m sure the next incarnation will be just as cool, and hopefully less populated with “newly minted lawyers”

  • Does anyone have any pictures of the old Capitol Club?

  • Maybe someone with a long memory can confirm, but I’ve always thought the Capitol Club was on the ground floor of the Rice, not the second floor. I think some of the furnishings in the State Bar came from the Capitol Club, but was it really the same space? (Also, the capitol of Texas was definitely not at Travis and Texas. It was at the other end of the block, closest to Main Street.)

  • Jim is absolutely correct. The Old Capitol Club was adjacent to The Flag Room, on the first floor. The Flag Room space is now Sambuca. A little internet sleuthing pulls up a dining room shot of some built in booths surrounding structural columns that now frame the stage at Sambuca.

  • also, the Kennedy story is a myth… he attended an event there, then flew to dallas for another fundraiser before retiring to his hotel room in Arlington. surely he had time to sneak in a scotch north of I-10.

  • Anyone find pictures of the old capitol club?