Downtown Houston's More Space: Main Street program has seen its first new patio. Little Dipper Bar, a sibling of Montrose favorite Poison Girl known for pinball and a casual atmosphere, debuted its new patio last week.
Created last fall through a partnership between the City of Houston, Houston Downtown Management District (Downtown District), and METRO, the program allows bars and restaurants on Main Street between Commerce and Rusk to expand their patios into the roadway. The goal is to help the businesses, some of which have been shut down since the start of the pandemic, recover from their economic losses by giving them a safe, socially-distanced seating option.
“This is one of those rare projects that solves several different problems at once,” said Scott Repass, owner of Little Dipper and a Downtown District board member, in a statement. “It is a healthier option for people wanting to go out and for restaurants and bars wanting to serve them. It is an attraction that will bring people downtown. And it makes use of an underutilized but beautiful part of Main Street.”
A representative for the Downtown District confirmed that several more businesses have expressed interest in the program, but their names aren't being released until they've received final approvals. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner hailed the program as an important step in bringing nightlife back to downtown.
“This is the perfect time of year to enjoy Houston’s patio weather, and I know Houstonians will enjoy the peace of mind of having extra space to dine while social distancing,” Turner said. “Programs like More Space: Main Street show that we can support our local businesses while continuing to observe pandemic protocols. We want Houstonians to gradually return to their routines and favorite past times, and in Houston, dining out is a big part of our culture.”
Little Dipper's new dining corral isn't the only sign that life downtown is improving. Chef Chris Shepherd's Underbelly Hospitality will open Georgia James Tavern, a more casual offshoot of his signature steakhouse, in the Market Square Tower later this year. The Original O.K.R.A. Charity Saloon's general manager will soon reopen the historic bar with a new name.