Austin comes to Midtown
Austin bar owners elevate Midtown with 4 exciting new concepts
Even with EaDo’s rise and Washington Avenue’s resurgence, Midtown remains one of Houston’s favorite places to party. Four new concepts from Austin-based bar owners will further cement that status.
Construction is currently underway to transform the block that formerly house Midtown Drinkery, Red Door, and Stoked Tacos & Tequila into four new concepts: 77 Degrees and Jack & Ginger’s Irish Pub from Union Venture Group; Electric Feelgood from Dogwood owners Carmack Concepts; and Unicorn Disco, a joint venture from the owners of HandleBar and Kung Fu Saloon.
For Union Venture, opening 77 Degrees and Jack & Ginger’s constitutes a return to Midtown; the company operated Red Door for 13 years. It also owned two other shuttered concepts: The Good Life in Midtown (currently the site of Maba Pan-Asian Diner) and Saint Genevieve in Upper Kirby’s West Ave mixed-use development.
“We had a good run there, 13 years at Red Door,” Union Venture co-owner Darren Van Delden tells CultureMap. “We were focused on some other projects, but we always wanted to make it back to Midtown . . . We just thought this would be a perfect opportunity.”
Uniting with Electric Feelgood and Unicorn Disco was an easy decision, Van Delden explains, because the companies already have neighboring concepts in Austin. Building the four concepts together creates synergy that takes advantage of Midtown’s walkability.
“We wanted to revamp the entire block in coordination with the landlord,” Van Delden says. “Over the last 15 years, its been a hodgepodge of different concepts. We didn’t want to invest unless there was a nice resurgence and overall conglomeration of different operators to do something unique.”
That something unique starts with 77 Degrees, which takes the success that Red Door had as a rooftop bar and turns things up, literally, by going from two to four stories. At a massive 14,000 square feet (almost as big as Truckyard), 77 Degrees will offer four levels of cabana-style seating, an extensive selection of cocktails, a Caribbean-inspired menu of tapas-style small plates and, most importantly, an impressive view of the downtown skyline.
Jack and Ginger’s offers a slightly elevated take on a classic Irish pub with 100 beers on tap, a menu of classic pub grub, and a commitment to soccer. Van Delden, who identifies himself as a devoted fan of the Beautiful Game, emphasized that he wants patrons to be able to watch matches at all hours of the day in an atmosphere that's a little nicer than what they might expect from other pubs.
“[Traditional] Irish pubs can be a little run-down,” Van Delden says. “We love that aspect, but we wanted to clean it up a little bit. Give you the atmosphere but a little more polished.”
The partners are obviously feeling bullish about their prospects, and why not? They’ve all operated successful concepts in Houston. Besides, Houstonians have demonstrated their affection for patio bars; why wouldn't elevating the experience draw crowds?