New Heights Bar
Red hot Heights: Owners of popular Northside bar plan new Mexican-inspired concept
One of last year’s most satisfying new bars is opening a sister concept in the Heights. The ownership group behind Edison, near Houston's Northside neighborhood, has purchased a property on 11th Street with plans to open a new watering hole general manager Danny Kirgan tells CultureMap.
Located on the former site of a trailer park, the new concept does not yet have a name. The moniker of the new establishment will be carefully researched to avoid any potential conflicts; Kirgan confirms that Edison will soon change its name to Edison & Patton (after the streets where it's located) and drop references to Thomas Edison in its branding in response to a cease-and-desist letter from California-based company Kinetescape Holdings LLC.
Just as Edison (or Edison & Patton) doesn't connote a specific style of cuisine or service, whatever name ownership chooses will probably incorporate some sort of reference to its immediate area.
Not unlike its corporate sibling, the new project will be a bar with food that’s of sufficiently high quality, making it a legitimate dining destination.
“The owners have had (the property) for a little while,” Kirgan says. “(There are) a lot of exciting things happening there. Eight Row’s taken off in the last year — every time you drive past, it’s packed. The old post office (Heights Central) is going to be interesting. Presidio is right there. We’re really excited to be part of the synergy in the area.”
Plans are currently being finalized to submit to the City of Houston for permit approvals. Once they’re granted, construction should take 90 to 120 days. Expect an opening in late 2017 or early 2018.
The space will apply the lessons learned from the group’s experience operating Edison by providing more interior space, but still having a spacious patio. Kirgan expects it to be slightly larger than Eight Row Flint, Agricole Hospitality’s bar devoted to whiskey, beer, and tacos that won this year’s CultureMap Tastemaker Award for Bar of the Year, but not quite as spacious as Presidio, the bar-forward restaurant from former Pax Americana chef Adam Dorris, which opened on 11th Street earlier this year.
“The thing we struggle with here is that we’re set up as a contemporary ice house with food, but when people come in on a Friday or Saturday night to dine, we have limitations in terms of the amount of inside space,” Kirgan says. “The biggest learning curve for us has been learning how to accommodate the people who come for a meal, because the food holds up so well. What we want to do at the next spot is make sure we can accommodate for that.”
In a bit of a twist from Edison, the new bar will serve food inspired by Mexico with an agave-oriented selection of spirits and cocktails. Kirgan says that the owners and chef Michael Sanguinetti have yet to determine the extent to which the menu will blend both Tex-Mex and traditional Mexican cuisine, but he cites several local influences that will shape the concept’s direction.
“We want to take inspiration from places we love, like The Pastry War and all of Hugo Ortega’s places, and all the great things that they do, and bring a little taste of it the Heights, which I think there might be room for,” Kirgan says.
The group will also travel to Jalisco and Oaxaca to study the cuisines there, but the menu probably won’t hew too closely to the traditions of any specific area. Kirgan notes that part of Edison’s success has been that its menu is flexible. Diners can choose from casual fare like burgers and tamales or go more elevated with dishes like house-made pastas that reflect Sanguinetti’s French training.
One thing that won’t change is the new concept will take its cocktails just as seriously as Edison does. Originally opened with a focus on whiskey and bourbon, Kirgan says they’ve added more tequila and mezcal in response to customer's requests. The new project will build and expand on that knowledge.
“I think we’re set up to bring something cool and unique to the area,” Kirgan says. “Hopefully, it will last a long time.”