Down House Ventures, the legal entity behind Treadsack’s oldest Heights-area technically-a-private-club, has filed for bankruptcy this morning, lagging just a few days behind last week’s Bernadine’s and Hunky Dory filings. The company preemptively included Down House in a Facebooked list of Treadsack restaurants that would stay open for now despite the legal and financial question marks now hanging over the company, given the sudden mid-winter departures of side-by-side restaurant and bar duo Foreign Correspondents and Canard and the details of payroll and tax issues subsequently dredged up; D&T Drive Inn and Johnny’s Gold Brick were placed on the still-truckin’ roster as well. This morning’s filings also look to have included a motion asking for funds to pay current Down House employees, as Craig Malisow reports was granted in the case of last week’s Chapter 11 initiates.
- Previously on Swamplot: Hunky Dory and Bernadine’s Are Not Dead Yet; We’ve Reached Chapter 11 in the Hunky Dory, Bernadine’s Story; Scoping Out 4721 N. Main St. Following Sudden Flight of Foreign Correspondents
Photo: Down House
and nothing of value was lost
Were all of these restaurants really insolvent? Or did the parent company mis-manage the group’s finances so spectacularly that one restaurant’s failure (Foreign Correspondents?) brought down the whole house of cards?
I frequented all of these establishments over a long period of time, mostly because of friends. You could see the pattern (management, hospitality, concept execution) and the synopsis is that all of them were actually good but not great. While I generally had no complaints, it wasn’t anything to write home about either. That last bit can be quite damning in a city such as ours where high concept restaurants don’t last 6 months. Put another way, there exists so much competition that simply being pretty good suddenly isn’t good enough comparatively speaking. As to the mismanagement of funds, it certainly seems to fit based on similar happenings in the past here and elsewhere however I’m simply speculating. I think there was an additional effect at play that might have retarded the “6 months and done” effect we often see in the Houston restaurant scene: location. Or, put more simply, the heights has a remarkable ability to sustain a business that would otherwise quickly be on life support inside the loop. Perhaps this is due to the residents that demand such establishments and are more willing to forgive foibles or flawed concepts (The El). They had so little for so many years, so I get it. Here’s hoping that the vacancies are filled quickly, I’m sure that an enterprising individual will seize on such an incredible opportunity involving some great real-estate. My sincere condolences to all the staff affected.
@JB3, I’m just speculating based on my experiences at these places, but they seemed to do a pretty high volume of business and they charged pretty high prices. I think one of the last times I ever ate at Down House was after a lunch that consisted of their standard burger, fries and a lemonade. The lemonade and burger were great, the fries a bit overcooked. $20 before tax and tip.
@A little birdie: I totally agree about the “good but not great” issue. I went to Down House once on a whim, enjoyed it, wrote a Yelp review, thought I’d go back, but never did. Houston has so many great places to eat it just never bubbled up to the top of the list again.
Note that Foreign Correspondents and Canard, the bar next door, are the only Treadsack businesses that have closed. The others are still kicking. I hope that doesn’t change any time soon, but, of course, it could.
Oh come on now. The Treadsack concepts got rave reviews and national attention. Even after all the bad press, they are still filling up and have lots of loyal customers. The Heights is no magical place where bad restaurants get a free pass. Black and White failed after a year. Arthur Ave and Piatto both failed to make it a year.
Treadsack is in chap 11. Typically, chap 11 allows a business to attract a new investor by renegotiating debt. The existing owners will usually give up a big stake of their equity to the new investor in exchange for not having to liquidate and lose everything. So, I imagine Cusack will take a pretty good beating in bankruptcy and most of the restaurants will survive.