A New 1970s Bar

Houston gets its own 1970s bar: Funky music and drink deals hit Main Street as Bobby Heugel looks on

Houston gets its own 1970s bar: Funky music and drink deals hit Main

Nightingale Room interior
A look inside The Nightingale Room. It opened Wednesday.  Photo by Julie Soefer
Nightingale Room Mike Criss
Veteran bartender Mike Criss is The Nightingale's proprietor in partnership with The Clumsy Butcher Group. Photo by Julie Soefer
Nightingale Room logo
Because every bar needs a logo. Courtesy photo
Nightingale Room interior
Nightingale Room Mike Criss
Nightingale Room logo

The time has come to bring a little more fun to the "Moving Sidewalk" that is the 300 block of Main. Already established as a bar-hopping hot spot thanks to Bad News Bar, The Pastry War, Moving Sidewalk (formerly Goro & Gun), Little Dipper and Dean's, the block is now getting a combination bar and music venue with the addition of The Nightingale Room, the latest concept from The Clumsy Butcher Group (Anvil, Underbelly, The Pastry War, Julep, Hay Merchant and Blacksmith).

Led by former Anvil bartender/OKRA Charity Saloon general manager Mike Criss, The Nightingale Room features a second story stage that will host DJs and bands on the weekends. During the week, the bartenders spin vinyl from a 2,200-plus selection of records displayed on the back bar. Curated with the assistance of iconic local store Cactus Music, the music selection will constantly expand, because each employee is asked to buy one new record for the collection every week.

The music selection will constantly expand, because each employee is asked to buy one new record every week. 

On Wednesday night, the music alternated between jazz (Miles Davis), soul (Ray Charles) and some low key, electronic influenced music that sounded a little like The Postal Service, which made for an appealing mix for the happy hour crowd. While a comprehensive list of the collection isn't available yet, it should also include more up-tempo tunes for weekends and late night.   

With unfinished-looking wood walls, mirrors over the bar (and on the ceiling) and a marquee over the front door, the room has a bit of a 1970s vibe that's only enhanced by the massive record collection. To further the retro feel, stylish mid-century modern furniture populates the second floor, which serves as a small lounge (and provides a view of the crowd below) when it isn't a stage.

The cocktail menu rolls out next week. True to The Nightingale Room's mission as a place for people to let their hair down, Criss promises it will include three shots. For now, the bar is well stocked, and the staff is ready to make a full selection of classic cocktails. Beer, wine and champagne are also available.

Happy hour, which runs from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, features half-off on house cocktails, well drinks, drafts and wines by the glass. It's a generously priced deal that makes The Nightingale Room an intriguing after work destination.

Clumsy Butcher president Bobby Heugel was behind the bar Wednesday night helping Criss train the staff. Veteran bartender Jojo Martinez is also on the team, and she's being given free reign to show off some of her flair tricks. 

The music performances will start in a few weeks. After almost a year in the making, The Nightingale is open and ready to sing.

The Nightingale Room is open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.