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Original OKRA Charity Saloon gets national attention — before it even opens

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okra charity bar opening
The space's interior has only seen minimal changes since its former life as the Red Cat Jazz Café. Photo by Sarah Rufca
okra charity bar opening
The OKRA Charity Saloon is expected to open by the end of the year.  Photo by Sarah Rufca
okra charity bar opening
okra charity bar opening
The Original OKRA Charity Saloon
Get Directions - 924 Congress Avenue Houston

With a high-profile list of administrators — helmed by Bobby Heugel, with a council that includes representatives of Houston's most talked-about eating and drinking establishments — and an unconventional business approach, it's no surprise that the Original OKRA Charity Saloon has gained a lot of local buzz in anticipation of its opening. 

But national attention before it has even had a final health inspection? That's big news. 

Condé Nast Daily Traveler gave a nod to Houston's charity bar in a listicle of "Pubs That Give Their Proceeds to Charity," pointing to OKRA's recent Peerbackers fundraising push and the group's credentialed crew. 

 Condé Nast Daily Traveler gave a nod to Houston's charity bar in a listicle of "Pubs That Give Their Proceeds to Charity."

 Other establishments with a do-good clause include Cause: The PhilanthroPub in Washington, D.C., which plans to split more than $100,000 in profits each year between local nonprofits; Robin des Bois in Montreal, a volunteer-run eatery that contributes to community-based foundations; vegan restaurant Darbster in West Palm Beach, Fla., a supporter of an animal welfare foundation that pays for spaying, neutering and pet care for low-income families; and the Oregon Public House in Portland — when it opens in January, customers will be able to pick the local charity that benefits from their bill. 

OKRA Charity Saloon's model will differ slightly, instead inviting imbibers to vote with a token on one of four Houston-based charities each month. At the end of the month, the votes will be tallied and the winner chosen, and 100 percent of the bar's profits will go directly to that beneficiary.

Though an official open date has not been announced, the group held a holiday party last weekend in the space off of Market Square Park (which has undergone only minimal changes since its former life as the Red Cat Jazz Café) and anticipates an open date prior to the end of the year. 

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