a major shift

Surprise shakeup sees founders depart exciting East End cocktail bar

Surprise shakeup sees founders depart exciting East End cocktail bar

Night Shift Justin Ware Patrick Abalos
Justin Ware and Patrick Abalos are being bought out of Night Shift. Photo by Justin Bowers/Captiv Creative

A major change in management has quietly taken place at one of Houston's most exciting new cocktail bars. Night Shift founders Justin Ware and Patrick Abalos recently departed the East End establishment, CultureMap has learned.

Opened last summer by Ware and Abalos in partnership with Sin Nombre, the local hospitality company that operates Giant Leap Coffee, event space Ronin Art House, and eagerly anticipated restaurant Cafe Louie, Night Shift has been an instant hit thanks to its creative cocktails, '90s-inspired design, and chef Danny Leal's Mexican-inspired food menu. Texas Monthly included the bar's signature "Pornstar Martini" on its list of the state's best new food and drinks for 2022.

To bring Night Shift to life, Ware and Abalos took inspiration from a number of sources, including participating in some of the world's most elite cocktail competitions, and recruited a talented staff to help execute their vision. Having devoted three years to creating the project, their sudden departure certainly comes as a surprise.

Logan Beck, a partner in the Rootlab design firm and Sin Nombre, tells CultureMap in an email that Ware and Abalos are being bought out of their ownership in Night Shift "so they can pursue other projects." 

"We wish Justin and Patrick all the best in their new endeavors," he adds. 

It's unclear at this time what prompted Sin Nombre to make this decision, and Beck declined to answer follow up questions. CultureMap contacted Ware and Abalos, who also declined to comment. 

As for Night Shift, it's moving forward with chef Leal serving as general manager. The bar plans to roll out a spring menu next week, Beck writes.