Washington Ave. Nightlife Rumor Gauntlet: Who’s Ready To Pay the Bill?

Yelp user Minh L. does his part to clear up all those Washington Ave. rumors. How many new bars are planned there? Really?

1. “The Lot” next to Pearl Bar will be open at 2 pm this Thursday.

2; The Daily Grind that closed down, the owners of Cork Screw has taken over the place, and is now currently being remodeled.

3. Owners of Whiskey Creek is opening a bar right next to “Busty La Rue” which is also right next to Pub Fiction new place on Washington. 5102 Washington Houston TX 77007

4. That Gawd awful yellow/stone place your talking about is called “Zen Ultra Lounge”

5. Owner of Pandora is opening another one down the street. Its that purple buidling. DBA is called “Blue Book” don’t think they have a name yet.

6. That really big one is called “Reign Lounge” One of the owners name is Luis. Very nice guy.

7. The old Pig stand is going to be called “Sawyer Sports Bar

8. “Rare Bar” is opening soon on Durham & Washington

All in all there’s about 16 bars/club so far wanting to open on Washington, but we’ll see how many of them really open. These are all the ones I have time to confrm.

And where exactly does Minh L. get his info?


. . . those aren’t rumors, most of places are our clients, so when they pay good money for a POS System, they’re going to open.

A few corrections from fellow Yelper MOrgan C.:

Zen Ultra Lounge, is renamed The Manor due to sounding too much like Citi-zen across the street.

Reign, is actually O-Reign (look closely at the sign) due to there already being a Reign in NYC or somewhere and they claimed infringement.

Photo of Reign Lounge, 4105 Washington Ave.: Heights Blog

64 Comment

  • This is so depressing.

  • Happy Richmond Strip. Could be a great location for an IHOP to serve breakfast, coffee and provide restrooms, in the wee-wee hours. Sorry, juvenile pun.

    See, this is why keeping Houston Heights dry is important. No matter how upscale -like Cova- for example, alcohol, like water will find its lowest level.

    BTW, RE the comment on the poor Pigstand transformation, what is a ‘Dragon Shirt’ boy?

  • Darby Mom, it refers to the steroid pumped guys in those Ed Hardy style shirts with silk-screened “art” splayed at angles across the shoulder. These are the fellows who cannot seem to find a rest-room, so they go in the street on Washington or walk into the local neighborhood to use the yard.

  • Why all the down comments?

    By the way, there is an IHOP nearby at Washington at I-10.

    This is what all the urbanist inner city crowd wanted. A lively commercial core next to residential.

    I would easily argue this is not like the Richmond Strip. The crowds are different than what you find west of Uptown.

    With so many establishment opening a stones throw from the Heights, I don’t see to much push to lift the alcohol ban except for a few restaurants.

    Anyone notice how all the new entertainment areas are naturally being built along Washington and not in Midtown?

  • That’s pretty good.

    I always refer to them as meatheads

  • Or as we call them in Montrose:

    Gym Bunnies.

  • Makes me happy I did not follow the yuppie logic to buy a townhouse off Washington Ave and opted for the dry section of town up the road.

    Sorry, kjb434, add 5-10 years, there is a high likelihood it will be like the Richmond Strip.

  • The Richmond Strips condition is do mainly to the clientele that visits those establishments.

    Most of the establishments along Washington Ave are catering to people nearby (even in the heights). Most of these people aren’t the ones attracting cops through fights and drag racing down major streets.

    I really see about half of these places potentially closing down though. Most of these have to establish a good consistent customer to stay open and anything beyond that is gravy. Considering the prices these places charge and what they are trying to achieve, most won’t be able to survive.

    Example: Pearl Bar – $9 for a Vodka Martini made with Absolut? Really? Absolut is not a high end vodka. Maybe $6 (even that is too pricey for me).

  • hahahah $6 for an absolut martini? never witnessed this unless there’s a special. at least $7 … i would charge $8. and since pearl bar has a douchebaggery upcharge, $9 seems about right.

  • kjb: build the bars, and they will come. I personally think Washington Ave is the place for all this, but I am not living right off of Washington Ave. I wouldn’t look at the Heights losing their dry status anytime soon. Many have tried and all have failed. Some pretty big dogs too!

  • If you are paying more than $6 for Absolut anything then your are definitely wasting your money.

    I’m guessing the non-uppity gay bars I go to know how to run a good prices. Actually, the nicer ones don’t charge much more either.

    $6.25 is the highest you’ll pay for any top shelf vodka based drink. Specials will go as low at $3-$4 on certain days.

    Anyway, I stick to beer except for when it comes time to do a shot or two.

  • I agree with you EMME.

    I think only restaurants from now on will be the real challengers to the heights restrictions. And as you correctly point out, many have failed and some are the big ones.

    Outside of the bars though, Washington Ave is also attracting a nice collection of local restaurants also. You can find pretty much any kind of cuisine along the strip except I thing for Greek/Mediterranean fair. If someone knows a place and I missed it, please tell me. I’m usually running over to Niko Niko’s to get my Greek fix.

  • kjb434, could go the other way. The locals served by these establishments could change. I’ve thought Rice Military at risk for that. With amount of subprimes, number of multi-family buildings, and densification the area could revert to a zone of low-cost rentals with absentee owners very quickly. A good market downturn with foreclosures would be a likely spark.

  • kjb434:

    FWIW, there’s a Zoe’s on the way…

  • Cool,

    I’ll have to try it when opens.

  • DMc…. I beg to differ, the dirt in the area is too spencive to allow for that cheap of a rent. Even on the cheapie tin townhomes. A typical rent in the hood now is around $2500/mo. You are not going to get the dregs of society renting dwellings @ $2k/mo. Plus, there just aren’t that many apartments around to fill up with trash. Yes, there are several new apt complexes opening up shortly, but the inside the loop dirt requires the rents to be high and therein lies the rub…. $$$ keeps da riff raff outta da hood. Couple all of that with the quiet zone coming this year and that will also boost the dirt prices between I-10 and Washington.

  • You all seem to forget these are nightclubs and the inherent nature of the night clubs is that they are fickle businesses. You can only be the hot spot for so long. Richmond strip, the downtown, then mid town and now it Wash Ave. First upscale, then lower a bit and then it a hood fest. Think of downtown and condo property values. I wonder if a SOB will open soon as on Westheimer. Not a strip club but a Bikini Bar…Ya sure.

  • Ha. Ha. Ha. You think the Washington corridor residents are mad NOW? Just wait until the shine comes off some of these places. The hip crowd will eventually move on. The drink prices come down. Then folks currently hanging on Main Street start coming to Washington. There goes the neighborhood.

    Just because people are paying $2k to $2.5k a month to live there now doesn’t mean they will continue to pay it if the neighborhood goes into a tailspin.

    On the other hand, I think the residential demand will overcome the entertainment demand long term. I’m just not sure how long “long term actually means.

    1. Richmond Strip
    2. Shepherd Plaza
    3. Downtown
    4. Midtown
    5. Washington Ave.
    6. Next?????????????????????

  • Are we having this conversation again? You can book it folks. If you think you are having problems with Pandora you have only seen the tip of the iceberg. I was in that business for 8 years and I have seen every area I ever worked in go downhill within 3 years of it being a cool place to hang out. To make it worse Washington Avenue is a great place to cruise.
    I also hate to clue some of you in to it, but the apartments off Richmond used to be Class A and B properties at one time. That and the dirt on Richmond Strip still sells for around $35 / sqft. Well at least that is what the last sale in 2007 was for. This idea that some of you have that you are isolated from a similar situation is about as laughable as someone that would pay $175 a sqft for a townhome that sits next to a railroad track or a recycling center.

  • Re: Dragon Boys and Gym Bunnies, I typically refer to them as Sweet Dudes. As in you can bet that one in every 3-4 sentences they say will be “Sweet, dude!”

    Pretty obvious that Washington will become what Midtown is now…overrun with frat boys and people from the ‘burbs on a mission to get as drunk as possible.

  • Sorry, DaSwankOne, all the apartments around the Richmond strip were already in serious decline.

    One thing to consider. Prior to the restaurants and bars that have moved in there in recent years, what was Washington Ave like? Me thinks it was a scary nighttime place.

  • EMME: I’ll tell you what Washington Ave was like before all of this gentrification. It was fun as hell. I spent my high school and college years hanging out in Washington Ave. area. It was a live music venue haven. We had Mary Janes, Cosmos, Silky’s the Abyss, The Satellite Lounge, and Rockefellers. Sure it was a low income minority area, but I never felt threatened walking around there at night. I sure in the hell don’t recall random fights breaking out.

  • The part of Washington that The Satellite Lounge, Cosmos and Rockefellers has been a great entertainment venue for a long long time. I am speaking of the parts east and west of those blocks. I don’t actually recall exactly what was there. I think it was scary to me in that there was really no night life, more like businesses that ran during the day, making it a spooky place at night where vagrants hung in the shadows.

  • I think there are several key differences between Richmond and Washington:

    1. Subtantially more quality, owned residential properties.

    2. MUCH more expensive dirt values – $60/sf in 2007 and even 2008 was not uncommon (as opposed to $35/sf on Richmond).

    3. Proximity to downtown and Memorial Park.

    4. Quality surrounding neighborhoods (The Heights, Camp Logan, Old Sixth Ward).

    The bars/clubs are definitely a negative, but I am hopeful that they will transition into better things. It would be great if the city would provide some incentives to developers that do the right thing – building lines, landscaping, improving/widening sidewalks, etc.

    I still believe in Washington. Logic tells me that it has staying power. It might just hit a few speedbumps along the way.

  • Maybe the new identity will help. Washington Avenue to be called WAve.

    AT A GLANCE http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nb/heights/news/6291930.html
    Residents and businesses along the Washington Avenue corridor will celebrate the area’s newest identity — as the WAve District, a play on the street’s name — with an ecology fair and shopping festival called Catch the WAve from 1-5 p.m. Saturday.

    For more information or to view a map of the participating businesses and organizations, visit Super Neighborhood 22’s Web site at http://www.sn22.org.

  • I think I am in agreement with houstonre.

  • So last night, a young group of kids decided that it would be appropriate to pimp and prostitute along my neighborhood street. As my neighbor and I watched the scantily clad young woman and her “companion” get in a truck and drive off, leaving behind a male friend, I asked the young man if he lived in the neighborhood, several times with no response. IPhone in hand, I told him if he did not live there he should leave because I was calling the police, which I did. He and his “friends” had been circling the block and several cars had been circling as well. After I spoke to him, I did not see him again. I also took photos of the cars as they passed, letting them see the flash.

    Get involved. Speak up and make them as uncomfortable as possible to be in your area. But don’t put yourself in danger.

  • Houstonre has a very good argument I’m in agreement about the staying power of WAve.

    EMME, thanks for mentioning SN22. I was going to do the same.

    I know some of the active members in SN 22 and belong to an organization that supports them.

    SN 22 is supported by a very active group of citizens and have done well to add a community feel to the WAve corridor.

    I’ll be helping setting up at the fair Saturday morning. I’m with the White Oak Bayou Association (WOBA) group. I won’t be able to be there for the actual fair though because of a charity bowling event in College Station I need to attend (Big Brothers and Big Sisters).

  • CK…I understand exactly what you are saying. But as we’ve seen this year real estate prices are not static. The high prices you speak of make the area ripe for foreclosures in a downturn. In downturns you don’t see the most damage in the uber high end areas (River Oaks) or the uber low end. The greatest effects are in the places that are expensive, but marginally affordable to the residents.

    The scenario I’d risk-analyze is this: say there’s a distressed property with a motivated sellar and it goes cheap. Since all the residences are almost identical it drags down the comps really bad.

    A couple of cheap sales brings in ‘da riff raff’. In that neighborhod, you’d better like your neighbors. They are only inches away with that density. If you don’t, it generates motivated sellers or owners that move-on and rent their former residences. Think: blockbusting in reverse.

    It’s worth evaluating the effect some ‘has-been’ once-popular-but-now-passe bars do to the area in that risk analysis.

    Not saying this IS going to happen. Just on a cursory look I can see it’s something that *could* happen.

  • DMc, you said it right, it *could* happen this way. Add in that townhomes are most attractive to a small segment of the population — single, young, no kids — and adding even one more resident to each property could make horrible parking and traffic problems.

    As for the Richmond v Washington comparisons…..don’t compare today’s values, look back a decade or so.

    Sharpstown’s change in the past 30 years is a great example. It was a nice neighborhood, owned homes, great location, had a great mall. Now its pretty scary over there. I’m not that old, but have heard the anecdotes.

  • Also, a couple of townhomes going for a low price won’t bring the area down.

    Most owners, if they must sell, will rent it out instead.

    Just down the street from me a young couple had to move because the husband got a promotion at work that moved him to Denver. It was a no-brainer to rent the townhome out. They found a renter real quick. They are renting it for $1,900/month. It’s a three bedroom, 2.5 bath home.

    Most of the townhomes in my area that I see turn to rent places are going to people who can afford the home if they bought it. Even with the high price, the value is better than the new “luxury” apartments in the area. Also, many of the new “luxury” apartments have filled up pretty quickly. I was surprised. The new one by Yale and WAve really added even more life to the area.

  • I remember when Sharpstown was a nice place to live. I also remember when the apartments went up in huge quantities. West University had the right way to build apartments. Just small complexes peppered throughout the neighborhood of single family homes. When you put in large quantities of cheaply made apartments which HOuston is known for, you can watch the neighborhood go down in about 10-20 years.

    Anyway, I remember when families found it too dangerous to remain in the homes they raised their children in and could not sell so they chose to walk away from their mortgages. Back then, they would buy a new house and then walk away from the old one which made things worse for those who stayed.

    I think we need a different mindset today. I think we need to fight back. It can be done with community, city council and law enforcement help.

  • Washington Ave. vs. Sharpstown? The real estate that they sit on is FAR to different to make that comparison.

  • But we have to admit that the housing situation today is in no way similar to the craziness that happened in the early 80s.

    It sounds really bad in the news, but Houston is not seeing the people just walking away in number like in the 80s or we are seeing other parts of the country today.

    A large part of inner loop housing boom came from a lot of people who moved to Houston for work. They moved out of expensive apartments and into homes. There was a section of investors too. Most of the serious foreclosure action and “crisis” events are happening in the suburbs.

  • Great points made by all. This is very interesting. I’m looking forward to cycling WAve Saturday. It will be fun to see it at a slower pace.

  • Good idea Brad, I will cycle WAve as well.

  • For those that can cycle, it’s probably best because of the limited parking.

    The people setting up are going early around 10 so they can move there cars to another place to leave parking for visitors.

    The link below is to the event:


  • If you cycle, be sure to carry a printed map with you for discounts at amny of the businesses. Looks like a fun event. Grazie mille to all the volunteers.

  • Why do people think that Midtown is such a bad area? I was there a few weekends ago and there were still plenty of people around Spec’s, Pub Fiction, Buffalo Wild Wings and the Gray/Bagby area.

    The Randall’s in Midtown was one of the nicest I’ve ever been to.

    Yes, there will be turnover in what’s “Cool”, but in the end, people will always frequent bars/restaurants that have good food/reasonable prices.

    If anything, I would think that Midtown would be a perfect example for WAve to become.

    Wasn’t Montrose/Westheimer a pretty rough neighborhood a decade or so back?

  • Well, I’m just going to be frank about my opinion on the crowds, since I know that this is what people are beating aroudn the bush with:

    As long as none of these clubs are NOT catering to a strictly Minority clientele, the area will be fine.

    When a nice bar becomes a Black/Mexican/Asian hangout, instead of mixed group of mature/educated people, that is when fights begin to break out and things go downhill.

    All these clubs/bars could make this into a great area like 4th St. in Austin.

  • Whoops, I think I put a double-negative in my last post, please let me correct it:

    As long as these clubs are NOT catering to a strictly Minority clientele, the area will be fine.

    Bring on the Rascist Bouncers!

  • No Terry. It is not even worthy of comment.

  • Here’s a shocker…West University was a rough neighborhood 35 years ago. Montrose was a rough neighborhood 30 years ago, Lower Westheimer and The Heights 20 years ago.

  • Well, we all know that’s what happened with the Richmond Strip.

    It didn’t help that the Richmond strip was backed up right next to Alief.

    I think it bodes well for Washington that it’s surrounded by affluent areas to the south (River Oaks) and the north (Heights).

  • Heights rough 20 years ago? It was rough less than 10 years ago. When I moved here people were like: “You live where? Are you crazy? Don’t you know about the crime?” My neighborhood was full of freaks and musicians.

    Now it’s: “You live where? How can you afford that?” And my ‘hood is full of trendy yuppies. (beg pardon for the stereotypes folks!)

    Neighborhoods change fast in this town. Bad-to-good and good-to-bad with astonishing speed. Atypical speed. Just a possibility to consider as a probability was all I was trying to say.

  • What exactly are y’all referring to as the Richmond Strip?

  • you know raj, that is an excellent question. I am referring to the one between Chimney Rock and Hillcroft but now that you mention it the Richmond between Shepherd and Kirby could also be referred to as the Richmond Strip.

  • I consider the Richmond Strip the area of Richmond from Chimney Rock down to Hillcroft.

    This area was littered with large “Urban” clubs about 10-12 years ago. The street would be teeming with cars “cruising” down the strip and people hanging out the windows of their cars and doing dumb things that were fun. I ate at the Taco Cabana on Richmond and Chimney Rock once and that was a pretty eye-opening experience.

    Obviously, the strip has cleaned up quite a bit since then.

  • There have been some rather good observations made in this thread. I am compelled to add that the Washington Ave. area has very little in common with the Richmond Strip area west of the Galleria and east of the beltway. The main difference is the price of the land in question is decidedly higher in this inner loop location. The inner loop location is why. Location, location, location. To compare this to Sharpstown, the Richmond Ave. area or any other suburban area is flat out wrong IMHO. These are suburban locations and not surrounded by high end neighborhoods, central parks, and downtown. Also, I have lived in each of these areas and I don’t care how fun anyone wants to say the Washington Ave. bars of yesterday were, 20 years ago, when I lived in the West End, it was a dump. And not a safe dump either. My house was burglarized 6 times in less than 5 years. The majority of businesses along Washington were crappy used car lots, dumpy car repair shops and various unsightly buildings in disrepair. Washington Avenue is far better off now than it has been in many many decades. The active community associations are being proactive in the rejuvination of the area. Granted, without zoning and deed restrictions, their effect can be somewhat limited, but they have already had a somewhat significant effect on the area. I do not expect this to wane in coming years, but to expand. Sure there will be some foreclosures and non-owner occupied townhomes and patio homes, but the dirt price demands high rents and therefore will keep out the riff raff. And…. riff raff is exactly what Washington Avenue used to be comprised of. I’ll take a bar over a body shop any day, and I’ve had a hobby body shop for years, just not next to my house.

  • CK – I agree with you up until the description of riff raff. While body shops and auto repair may not make for lovely landscape, they are hard working and not worthy of the term riff raff.

  • EMME, I agree. Nothing wrong with honest blue-collar workshops in a mixed industrial area. I’ll take an auto shop over a Pandora ANY day.

  • Please don’t take me wrong, I’ve had a number of friends that have had body shops, and in case you didn’t notice the last part of my earlier post, I have one myself. But, I sure don’t want one next to where I build a $300k house, or next to a commercial office. I am not making a class warfare statement by any stretch of the imagination. What I like about about where I live in Rice Military is that there’s hardly anything around me that is old and dilapidated. It’s generally rather foolish to have an automotive repair facility on top of $50-$60/ft dirt, that is unless you’re catering to really high dollar clientelle and you can afford to build the necessary location upcharge into the service rates. That is not what was proliferating over the years on the Washington Ave. strip. And…. there was plenty of riff raff. That is not to imply in any way that all people in the automotive industry are riff raff. I have plenty of very good friends in that industry. The last big party I went to, was nothing but gear heads. I grew up around the automotive industry. But, I don’t want a used car dealership next to my house.

  • I understand CK. I think it needed clarification and you made it. The sad thing is that until we started valuing the area, all those auto shops belonged on Washington Ave. It was the proper place. It kept them out of River Oaks and Memorial and the Woodland Heights. It is we that are the interlopers. Inevitable interlopers, yes, but interlopers all the same. Having said that, I think it is only right that we speak of those that we have displaced with respect. That’s all.

  • From Terry:
    I consider the Richmond Strip the area of Richmond from Chimney Rock down to Hillcroft. This area was littered with large “Urban” clubs about 10-12 years ago.

    People who are comparing Washington and Richmond are not talking 10-12 years ago. We’re talking 20-25 yrs ago when it was the place to be and was a nice area.

  • From Terry:
    As long as none of these clubs are NOT catering to a strictly Minority clientele, the area will be fine.

    When a nice bar becomes a Black/Mexican/Asian hangout, instead of mixed group of mature/educated people, that is when fights begin to break out and things go downhill.

    Are you talking Cyclone Anaya’s?

  • Which Cyclone Anaya’s are you talking about? The most popular one is in Midtown and I haven’t been there in a couple years. Not sure what the crowd is like now, but I remember seeing a lot of white linen suits last time I was there, FWIW. Hopefully it’s still successful and brings a good-looking educated crowd (i.e. no fights/guns). It’s in a very very nice location.

    In regards to the Richmond strip being hot 20-25 years ago, I apologize, since I had absolutely no idea about that. LOL. Heck, if we’re looking that far back though, it’s definitely going to be a crapshoot. I would imagine very few neighborhoods can keep a high status for 20-25 years.

  • Terry, there is also the busy Cyclone Anayas on Durham just north of Washington Ave. It sits the with a plethora of other restaurants and hangouts.

  • How about a white redneck skinhead bar? Would you like that in your neighborhood? It’s not about black, asian, hispanic, etc…it’s about jerks as opposed to reasonable people. All races have both.

    Sad commentary.

  • EMME, Sad commentary is right.
    CK, good post on automotive issues. I’m a life long auto racer and most of my gearhead friends are relatively affluent.

  • CK and Brad: Are you shadetree mechanics? :)

  • No, I sure wouldn’t want a rednecked skinhead bar in my neighorhood, just like I wouldn’t like a public forum where I can’t speak my viewpoint to self-righteous individuals.


    And you’re right, it’s always better to have a mixture of races then one place being a favorite of one race. My point exactly.

  • Terry said, “just like I wouldn’t like a public forum where I can’t speak my viewpoint to self-righteous individuals.

    – Ditto

  • I’m okay with all the bars and clubs as long as people don’t start parking in front of our house and/or peeing in our front yard. We’re only two blocks off Washington and that worries me. We had the misfortune of living in Midtown a few years ago – until they built a club RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET. It was horrible!

  • I live 3 bloks off of Washignton,and I have lived here for the last nine years. It has been a quite a big change, I hope is for the better. I disagree with the night life and bars and restaurants alone Wahington, it does not need to be ugly; why cannot be nice, all mayor cities have trendy places,but is up to the City and zonning and neighbors we don’t allow this neighboorhood to become just another bar strip as is common in Houston. I hope we get cibilized and have nighlife like all major capitals of the world. Look at Soho in NYC, look at Condesa in Mexico, City, real state prices are sky rocket. I don’t see why we cannot have something like Soho, or Condesa, D.F. in Mexico City. in Washigton and Durham and all alone Washigton to Memorial an Wescot and allthe way to Yale street.