In a time when the local scene is suffering, one Bayou City music vet is betting audiences want to see live music again.
Houston venue owner, Scott Gertner, is back with his newest restaurant-entertainment venture, Scott Gertner's Rhythm Room at 5535 Memorial Dr. — in the location once inhabited by Peruvian restaurant, Che Inka.
Technically, the long-time jazz and R&B band leader opened the doors to the new restaurant-meets-entertainment spot opened to February to weekend sneak-peaks before being sidelined by COVID-19. He'll open his doors to the wider public this weekend with a series of shows.
"It took seven months to build, we opened for three or four weeks and then it was mandatory shut-down," Gertner tells CultureMap. "We started back with take-out, then we started with one person on the stage, only a few tables inside and out. Now, this is the first weekend that we're offering three- and four-piece performers spaced out for live music and the response has been really good."
Gertner, a graduate of Houston School of Performing and Visual Arts, has a long history as a performer — with Scott Gertner and his All-Star Band and as bar owner with Scott Gertner’s Skybar & Grille in Montrose, in addition to Scott Gertner’s Sports Bar Live in the Galleria, and Scott Gertner’s at Houston Pavilions in the heart of downtown.
Skybar was perhaps his most successful venture with an 11-year-run, drawing performers such as his idol, Luther Vandross, as well as Patti Labelle, Brian McKnight, and Steve Harvey.
"My mother was a singer when we were in New Jersey," Gertner says. "This is all I ever wanted to do. Luckily, it's turned into a great situation with being able to have my own venues."
The new spot will have a capacity of 105 indoors and 30 guests on the patio with an intimate lounge vibe. The party will get underway this Friday, June 5, with La Mafia's David Delagarza & Friends, jazz guitarist Joe Carmouche & Band on Saturday, and R&B vocalist Melanie Covington performing at Sunday brunch.
Admission is a $10 entertainment charge. VIP tables will be available. Gertner plans to feature his band as well as jazz, R&B, pop, salsa, and country acts.
"I always wanted to do a full menu restaurant and that's how that happened," says Gertner about the spot next to Bayou Bend. "We had to find a place that had lots of parking and was centrally located, inner-loop area. It was a space that was a restaurant prior, it had a patio, it was perfect."
A Creole and Cajun menu is courtesy of Darian Williams, former sous chef at Emeril Legasse's restaurants in New Orleans. It will include crawfish nachos, seafood gumbo, chicken and sweet potato waffles with Creole cane syrup, boudin balls, Bananas Foster, and white chocolate bread pudding.
The Rhythm Room will also feature a full bar with a variety of cocktails, including watermelon frozens, Bloody Mary's, and gin martinis. Private wine and liquor lockers will be available with name plaques.
For now, the venue will adhere to social distance requirements with staff wearing masks to protect guests with a walk-up window to order drinks on the patio, and spaced out tables.
Scott Gertner's Rhythm Room; 5535 Memorial Dr. For reservations, call 832-804-9046.