Having successfully launched the Southern-inspired bar and restaurant The Moonshiners, the Salt N Pepper Group is ready to bring a little bit of the Midtown party scene to downtown with its latest concept. Dubbed Boots 'n Shoots, the new bar blends a Texas theme with a whiskey-centric cocktail menu and an upstairs club space that should be livelier than any bar on Main Street outside of the Nightingale Room.
Before diving into the details, Salt N Pepper marketing and product director Daut Elshani provided an overview of the group's overall operations. Readers without an interest in this sort of inside baseball may skip the next couple of paragraphs, but industry insiders and Swamplot obsessives should read on.
Salt N Pepper began as a spin-off of the KCH Group that opened Celtic Gardens, 3rd Floor, Pub Fiction, and Shot Bar in Midtown, but Elshani tells CultureMap that Salt N Pepper is now the "current operating and management group" for the concepts. Pizza and wine concept Crisp has a slightly different set of owners but is also under the Salt N Pepper umbrella. Former KCH partner Michael Paolucci has stepped away from day to day operations with the group (he also just closed Cook & Collins), and chef Jared Estes has also departed.
In terms of real estate, the group still plans to open a second location of its popular Beer Market Co. in Midtown, but the project has been delayed by the design challenges associated with converting a former doctor's office into a restaurant. They have yet to decide what to do with the former Nit Noi space in the historic Sweeney, Coombs & Fredericks Building. "If the right tenant comes along, we’ll consider," Elshani says.
Turning to Boots 'n Shoots, Elshani describes the concept as having a Texas theme and a cocktail menu that features craft Texas whiskey. Downstairs, an American flag mural hangs over the long bar, while reclaimed wood panels on the walls and leather banquettes recall a ranch house. Upstairs, a large "Shots" sign helps designate it as a party spot. The cocktail menu features kitschy Texas-inspired names like "Fixing to Boot," "Bless Yer Heart," and "All Hat, No Cattle."
Elshani says the company has achieved success with The Moonshiners but thinks downtown's rapidly growing slate of bars and restaurants lacks late night party spots like what the group has in Midtown at Shot Bar. The new bar fills that role with its upstairs space: a nightclub-style venue that will feature DJs on the weekends.
"A lot of times I go out myself, and . . . that late night atmosphere dies out, and (patrons) go looking for something else," Elshani says. "Typically, they go running back to Midtown. Get a cocktail or go to a nice happy hour in downtown and then late night after 11 pm or midnight, most will run back to Midtown. Why not take advantage of that shift?"
While the Texas theme doesn't extend to Country and Western line dancing, Boots 'n Shoots will likely welcome two-steppers, at least when the dance floor doesn't get too full. But wait, there's more.
"We’re going to have a massive Plinko board," Elshani says. "We’re going to bring some aspects of Midtown here to make it fun for everyone."
Those elements mean Boots 'n Shoots will likely appeal to a different sort of consumer than those who patronize the cocktail bars on the 300 block like Moving Sidewalk and Bad News Bar, and that's OK. The once-fledgling downtown revival that began in 2013 has blossomed into a fully-formed movement. With Houston only a year away from hosting the Super Bowl and more residential units set to open soon, expect an even broader mix of concepts to open.