Leon’s Lounge is back in business: following an abrupt January shutdown and months of rustling behind closed doors, the undisputed reigning oldest bar in Houston (comma, sorta-continuously-operating-under-the-sameish-name, comma, that-was-not-a-restaurant-or-ice-house-first) is once again serving drinks beneath those signature chandeliers. Leon’s closed in January with the colorful severance of the leasing relationship between building owner Scarlett Yarborough (daughter of Leon himself) and then-operator Pete Mitchell (proprietor of Under The Volcano on
Richmond Bissonnet), including the swift dismantling of the outdoor patio.
A new patio is now in place, and service resumed following the bar’s soft opening in the weeks before Halloween. An official Grand Reopening under new operators Duane Bradley and Jim DeFoyd (joint owners of The Davenport, purveyor of “quality lounging” on Richmond just off Shepherd) took place last Saturday. While many of Leon’s familiar features remain intact following this round of renovations, the updated interior may no longer qualify the longtime Midtown dive for full dive status.
The red Leon’s Lounge sign, along with its trusty phone booth companion, never left the premises:
The patio, however, has been rebuilt:
The black-and-white bartop from the 2010 update has survived the transition, as has the backlit stained-glass window that guides patrons to the restroom across the oft-blurry sea of Midtown activity:
Gone is the cozy living-room-style array of couches and lamps in the back nook — replaced by wooden tables and chairs.
New tile has been laid throughout the space.
- New life on the horizon for Leon’s Lounge, Houston’s oldest bar [Houston Chronicle]
- Leon’s Lounge Closes Abruptly…Sort of [Houston Press]
- 10 of the Oldest Bars in Houston [Thrillist]
- Previously on Swamplot: Leon’s Lounge Takes a Turnover Break
Images: Swamplot inbox
Under the Volcano on *Sunset*
Thanks for catching that! It’s not on Richmond- it’s actually on Bissonnet, though. Updated to reflect as much!
I wrote a song in memory of Leon’s Lounge the day they closed. You can listen to it here… https://soundcloud.com/socki4htx/lolas-depot
Oh right, Bissonet! Shows I’m overdue for my next visit…
To think when I lived in Midtown (1997-2002) this place was a beer-only Hobo hangout that had pay showers. For some reason I miss the old “dirty” Houston.