Former cigar bar Downing Street Pub has apparently closed. A CultureMap reader says he spoke with an employee who informed him of the closure. In addition, the bar's website has been taken offline and no posts have been made to its Facebook page in over a week. An employee at a neighboring business observed that the bar, which is usually open for lunch, was locked up all day Wednesday.
Downing Street made the decision to go non-smoking in March to better accommodate the arrival of the recently opened Local Foods and the Memorial Hermann Breast Care Center that operates above the bar. Managing partner Lawrence Daniel told CultureMap that the property's landlord was "heavily involved" in the decision to end smoking at the space.
When CultureMap first reported on Downing Street's decision to go non-smoking in February, Daniel predicted the bar would be able to successfully transition away from cigar enthusiasts by attracting non-smokers who had previously avoided the bar's smoky atmosphere. "If we were to go completely non-smoking, what might that open up," he wondered. "Nobody in Houston can touch our back bar . . . in single malt Scotches and bourbon."
Unfortunately, that prediction hasn't been proven true. TABC records show that the bar reported Mixed Beverage revenue of almost $92,000 in February, the last full month of smoking. By April, that number was down to less than $33,700. More recent numbers aren't available, but anecdotal reports suggest a continued decline.
Neither Daniel nor co-founding partner Chris Hill immediately responded to CultureMap's request for comment about the decision or the space's future. When they do, we will update this article with their comments.
Upper Kirby has seen many changes over the past year with openings like Nara, Trenza, 60 Degrees Mastercrafted, Grace's and Pico's balanced out by a wave of recent closures that includes Brio, Saint Genevieve, the Roak/OTC "funeral bars" and others.
Could the corner of Kirby and Westheimer be the sort of "spectacular" location Austin chef Ned Elliot said would lure him to open a second location of his restaurant Foreign and Domestic in Houston? Only time will tell.