Restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 may have closed bars and nightclubs statewide, but some people are looking towards the future when they can reopen. One project coming to Midtown aims to elevate the city’s nightlife scene.
Houston may have a few rooftop bars, but none of them are quite like Rise Rooftop — a new nightclub slated to open in either late summer or early fall (assuming bars are allowed to be open). Formerly Proof, the 10,000-square-foot venue will feature a retractable roof. Installed at a cost of $1 million, the structure is 150 feet long and 45 feet wide.
Partners Sean Stauble, his wife Jersey, and Justin Ellerton chose to install the roof when they studied Houston’s weather and determined that as many as 15 of the 16 days the club would be open in a month could be rained out. Stauble tells CultureMap he believes it is the largest retractable roof in North America that’s not covering a sports arena.
“The retractable, trust me, it’s going to be one-of-a-kind,” Stauble says.
The rest of Rise will be just as impressive as the roof. Designer Gino Vian worked with Stauble to give the venue a futuristic atmosphere that fits with the idea of “rise up.”
That aesthetic starts at the entrance where the bar’s “stairway to heaven” will have Hollywood Walk of Fame-style plaques with the names of deceased musicians — everyone from DJ Screw to David Bowie. Three bars inside will reflect the themes of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Upstairs will be the VIP area, with private booths that have balconies overlooking the dance floor. Vian says he installed 50,000 pennies as the floor for the restrooms.
“I’m super stoked about it,” Vian says. “I think it’s going to be a landmark in Houston.”
Just like the artists memorialized on the stairs, Stauble has been speaking to an eclectic slate of artists about performing on Rise’s stage. Buckcherry, originally scheduled for August, has been moved to next year. En Vouge had been on the slate for a fall date. Sugar Ray and Snoop Dogg are other possibilities once the venue is allowed to operate at a capacity that justifies the expense.
Stauble wants Rise to be known as much for its service as its design. The nightclub won’t have a dress code, because he wants neighborhood residents to feel comfortable coming by for a drink or two — not just when they’re celebrating occasions with bottle service. The staff will be encourage to respond to questions in a friendly way.
Reserved tables will be based on a minimum spend so that people can order wine, beer, or drinks without committing to one specific bottle for an evening. Customers will be able to combine a night at Rise with a package from Black Horse Limousine, which is also owned by Ellerton.
“I want people to come here, have fun, and want to come back. Not leave here and think, oh this drink was so expensive,” Stauble says. “If it was expensive, it was worth it. I didn’t just come to a bar. I had an experience: the staff was nice, the bouncer walked me to the bathroom.”
That spirit of hospitality stems from the name, too. Yes, Rise literally towers above Midtown, but Stauble has overcome personal challenges to bring this project to fruition. A former partner on the project, one of Stauble’s closest friends, died suddenly. On a broader level, he feels like the whole world wants to rise above the current pandemic and get back to a more social existence. He intends for Rise to provide that experience.
“You’ve been home,” Stauble says. “Come here and let us take care of you.”