A Real Love Story

Iconic Houston bar reopens for one magical night that couple in love will never forget

Iconic bar reopens for one magical night that couple will never forget

Sean O'Brien Liz Somes engagement Leon's Lounge
Sean O'Brien proposed to Liz Somes Saturday night at Leon's Lounge. Courtesy photo

The sudden, unexpected closure of Leon's Lounge has been a blow for many Houstonians who appreciated the establishment's unpretentious atmosphere and solid drinks. None more so than Sean O'Brien. His first date with Liz Somes, his girlfriend of a year and a half, took place at Leon's.

Now he was ready to ask Somes to marry him, and the place he wanted for his proposal was closed.

"I suggested we go to Mongoo se vers us Cobra. I said, 'Oh, it looks like there are some lights on at Leon’s. We should go see if it’s open.' "

O'Brien reached out to Leon's owner Scarlett Yarborough to see if there was any way he could lease the space for a night to facilitate his proposal. "I was pleasantly surprised," O'Brien tells CultureMap "She responded right away and was enthusiastic. She did everything she could to make it happen for us."

"It was the cutest thing that night with this couple," Yarborough says. "He wanted to pay me. I said absolutely not. We’d love to do that for you." 

Yarborough's first step involved turning the electricity back on. Then she moved in some furniture she had in storage. "I met up with Scarlett and a couple of her workers on Friday," O'Brien says. "They’d been cleaning the place up. Then I went back there on Saturday to get it totally set." 

The Big Moment

O'Brien and his friends decorated Leon's east room with mirrors, lights, candles and flowers. He set up an iPod with a custom playlist and had a bottle of their favorite wine waiting. Yarborough arranged for a friend of hers to act as a bouncer and keep out onlookers. O'Brien kept Yarborough and a small group of friends updated via text. Everything was ready for the big moment. 

 Regardless of who takes over Houston's oldest bar, Yarborough has offered to host a wedding reception for the happy couple.  

"We went to dinner and then to the Book of Mormon," O'Brien explains. "I suggested we go to Mongoose versus Cobra. I said, 'Oh, it looks like there are some lights on at Leon’s. We should go see if it’s open.'" 

Yarborough watched the proceedings from across the street. "He comes in the door. He walks in front of her. She looks outside like she’s (confused) for a minute. He just barged in . . . I told (the bouncer) to go peek for me. He said ‘Cupid’s doing a good job, because she was tearing up.’"   

O'Brien describes the proposal as a "nice, private moment." 

After all the speculation about Leon's future, having it play host to another special occasion was an important milestone on its path to resuming operations. Yarborough is still searching for a new tenant; she hopes to have Leon's reopen as soon as possible. She says she's been fielding calls from a variety of interested parties and will host an open house to present the property and discuss lease rates.

Regardless of who takes over Houston's oldest bar, Yarborough has offered to host a wedding reception for the happy couple. 

"It was all exciting and nice and lovely," Yarborough says. "They’re a cute little couple."