The recent success of new arrivals like Rodeo Goat and Truckyard demonstrates both EaDo's emergence as Houston's newest drinking and dining hot spot — and that Houstonians will embrace concepts from Dallas-Fort Worth when they're properly executed. Recently, another DFW-based operation announced its plans to add to Midtown's bustling bar and restaurant mix.
Shawn Rao and Jonathan Serrano are working to bring their concept America Gardens to 2419 Caroline St. in the eastern side of Midtown. The concept combines many of the features of Houston's most successful patio bars, with a massive outdoor space that features landscaping, games, and plenty of TVs for watching sports. A menu inspired by classic American dishes from across the country (Maine lobster rolls, Louisiana catfish, and shrimp etouffee) gets paired with a selection of 50 draft beers and cocktails that are named after significant figures in American history. The project has been in development for a year or more, but the owners are finally ready to provide some more details on their plans.
“My business partner and I were both born and raised in Houston, which makes this project particularly special to us,” Rao said in a statement. “Ever since we got into the hospitality business, we’ve wanted to come back home, and now we have the opportunity to with America Gardens.”
All together, the 14,000-square-foot location will have the ability to seat 300 people outside and 150 inside. By being both pet-friendly and open to all ages (except for after 9 pm on Friday and Saturday), America Gardens aims to appeal to as wide a demographic as possible. Construction has already begun, and the owners currently plan to open in January 2019. Once the bar catches on, Rao and Serrano could open other concepts from their Syn Group Hospitality portfolio. As the company explains in its pitch to investors on the NextSeed crowd funding platform (on a raise of between $200,000 and $1,000,000 with various rewards for backers), it believes the concept will appeal to Midtown residents and revelers.
"The site of America Gardens is perfectly suited to a bustling social venue with its ample space, street access, and abundant parking," it writes. "Commuters and other passersby will not be able to miss the handsome, expansive barn structure, a proud slice of Americana. And once inside, they’ll discover the kind of venue at which they could spend the day, the venue Midtown has long requested."
America Gardens is just one of a few very large new bars coming to Midtown and downtown. Pour Behavior, a project from the owners of Lumen Lounge, Proof Rooftop Lounge, and Lincoln Bar that combines a patio bar and a sports bar, aims to open at the intersection of Travis and Webster. The Rustic, a bar and live music venue backed by Texas country music singer Pat Green, broke ground last November and should open later this year.
Are there enough people to support all these new establishments? Experienced people are investing significant sums on the theory that if you build it, they will come.