One of Houston’s most innovative bar-restaurant hybrids is closing its doors. Decatur Bar & Pop-Up Factory will shutter after service on Thursday, October 31, owner Adam Brackman announced.
Throughout this week, the bar will offer drink specials such as $5 cocktails, $4 beers, and $5 glasses of wine. Thursday night will be a Día de los Muertos party with live music, tarot readings, and guest bartender Marla Martinez (Around the Corner).
Located on the site of the original Beaver’s, Brackman intended Decatur to be spin on some of the elements that have worked well at Axelrad, his wildly popular beer garden in Midtown. Instead of a bar where chefs pop-up while cooking on propane stoves under a tent, Decatur would give them a professional kitchen to showcase their talents. He recruited chef Evelyn Garcia, a Chopped champion and a veteran of several restaurants in New York, to serve her creative Thai fare as Decatur’s first resident chef. Acclaimed bartender Leslie Krockenberger created the cocktail menu.
Unfortunately, patrons found the mix confusing. Was it a Thai restaurant or a bar? Why was dinner service only offered as part of a multi-course, family-style meal? Decatur made changes, but it never found a stable audience.
Brackman also realized it’s hard to stand out in Houston’s increasingly competitive dining landscape.
“There’s so many new restaurants and food halls opening up. There’s so many options out there for people,” Brackman tells CultureMap. “It’s hard to capture someone’s attention.”
Still, he’s proud of what Decatur accomplished as a showcase for talented chefs. A number of people used Decatur as a kitchen to prepare meals for potential investors, and others held successful pop-ups there.
Garcia will be moving on to Politan Row, the food hall that’s opening next month in Rice Village. Victoria Elizondo, Garcia’s sous chef, used Decatur to showcase her Cochinita & Co. pop-up that will also soon call Politan Row home.
“The shining star here is Evelyn,” Brackman says. “She hit us up to do pop-ups at Axelrad. We welcomed her there. We gave her a venue to show what she can truly do.”
Brackman is trying to treat the staff fairly, too. He informed them of the decision prior to sending out a press release. Some are being offered jobs at Axelrad, and others will receive severance pay.
Don’t expect the building to stay empty for too long. Brackman acknowledged he’s already heard from people interested in leasing the space. After all, the neighborhood is bustling. Sawyer Yards will soon be home to two new breweries, and State of Grace owner Ford Fry plans to open a new restaurant next to B&B Butchers.