big star dimming

Bittersweet last call for popular Heights neighborhood dive bar

Bittersweet last call for popular Heights neighborhood dive bar

Big Star Bar interior
Big Star Bar has always been kind of dreamy. Now, the dream is over.  Photo by Nick DiFonzo

All Brad Moore has now are memories.

The time one of the bartenders married the establishment’s resident cat, in response to right-wingers publicly declaring that gay marriage would lead to people marrying their pets. The Second New Year’s Eve parties that were held for people in the service industry. The John Waters film festivals held outside. The David Bowie birthday parties. That Urban Cowboy-themed party complete with a mechanical bull and his wife, dressed as Dolly Parton, DJing in the back of a pickup truck.

These are just some of zany soirees that were held at Big Star Bar, the Heights Bar Moore co-owns. Just a couple of days ago, it was announced that the decade-old watering hole will be shutting down soon. The landlords, a Mexican family who bought the property “when none of us honkies were around,” as Moore says, have sold it. “They’re not doing anything wrong,” says Moore, 51, who owns such Houston spots as OKRA Charity Saloon, Grand Prize Bar, and Sassafras. “They’re cashing in, and good for them.”

Big Star will still be in business on a month-to-month basis, until someone buys the property and most likely tears it down. This comes a few months after Fitzgerald’s, another long-running Heights entity, shut its doors. For Moore, this is just another case of an eclectic, fascinating part of town getting gentrified by what he calls “the Bud Light, kind-of-trendy crowd.”

It’s the same people that made Moore and owners Pam Pelligrino, Charlie Fernandez, and Arian Owens start up Big Star when they started populating Pearl Bar, the Washington bar Moore first launched. As Moore says about the region these days, “There’s a lululemon there now, you know.”

Even the South Carolina-born Moore, who now lives in New Orleans, had to get his family out of there. “When we moved to The Heights, it was an old, Mexican neighborhood, and it was awesome,” he says of the land, before condos and big houses began taking over. “We wanted to live in a more interesting neighborhood, because The Heights used to be interesting. And, now all our friends — our interesting friends — couldn’t afford to live there anymore.”

Even though Moore calls the Big Easy his home now, he’s still a strong Houston supporter. And he’ll most likely be back here when Big Star celebrates its tenth anniversary — even though it’s in its eleventh year of business (“We do a lot of things late,” he says) — on the 25th and 26th of May.

But Moore is mostly grateful at the response he’s seen from people on social media over the Big Star Bar wrapping up. “That bar changed my life, for the better,” he says. “I’m glad that people think it’s important, because it was important in people’s eyes. It was certainly important to me.”