Whether or not drinking is good or bad for you has long been the subject of much medical debate. But thanks to a new collective of independent Houston-based bars and restaurants, OKRA (Organized Kooperative on Restaurant Affairs), imbibing can absolutely be good for your community — and your conscience.
Founded by Anvil's Bobby Heugel along with business partners Chris Shepherd, Kevin Floyd, Steve Flippo and Mike Burnett, as well as the gents behind Pilot Light Restaurant Group, Greenway Coffee & Tea, Poison Girl/Antidote/Black Hole, Grand Prize Bar and others in response to looming city parking issues, the organization also aims to have a philanthropic arm with Houston's first-ever not-for-profit drinkery.
"The ultimate purpose is two fold: To first advocate on behalf of independent restaurants, bars and other aspects of the hospitality industry, and secondly, to recognize that as part of that industry we have a responsibility to facilitate social change in our community," Heugel tells CultureMap of the collective, which had been in the works for some time but gained speed as independent bars and restaurants rallied in opposition to new proposed parking ordinances.
The group does not yet have a formal legal identity, but Heugel says that once that's sorted out they aim to scout a location for the non-profit bar, hopefully one they can retrofit to open next summer. All (yes, all) proceeds will go to a different charity each month, with patrons being able to vote for the charity of their choice with bottle cap tokens, similar to Buffalo Exchange's set-up of tokens for charities instead of shopping bags.
OKRA also hopes to host seasonal charitable food festivals and membership drives (a year membership currently costs $50 and gets you exclusive or discounted access to OKRA events, and can be purchased in-person at Anvil pending a completed website).
Next up, the advocacy arm is cocked to swing, however, with the next city Planning Commission meeting set for Thursday at 2:30 p.m.