Washington Avenue welcomes a new, high-energy restaurant this week. The Sporting Club opens to the public on Thursday, October 22.
Opening The Sporting Club (5102 Washington Ave.) gives owner SoClutch Group four establishments on Washington. It joins party bar Concrete Cowboy, sports bar Clutch, and cocktail bar the Sugar Room.
“The whole goal when we came to Houston is to take over that block of Washington and bring it back to life,” Brandon Duliakas, SoClutch's director of operations for Houston, tells CultureMap. “Our goal is to create an entertainment district.”
While The Sporting Club has some aspects in common with its siblings, including the availability of bottle service, the focus is on the food. SoClutch hired chef EJ Miller (Riel, International Smoke) to craft a menu that mixes Italian-inspired fare like baked ricotta and frito misto plus pizzas, sandwiches, and cold seafood dishes.
“EJ is truly an artist at what he does,” Duliakas says. “The food here, I would put it against most restaurants in the city.”
The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner daily beginning at 11 am. Weekend brunch service and a late night menu that’s served from 11 pm-2 am round out the offerings.
As at the Sugar Room, SoClutch retained the Ladies of Libation, bartenders Laurie Harvey and Kris Sowell, to create the cocktail menu. A selection of frozens and modified classics anchor the offerings, but the Sporting Club sets itself apart with its party cocktails. Designed for groups, the large format cocktails are served in carbonated mini-kegs that allow each person to pour their own drink. Duliakas cites the Party Pims (gin, Pims, rhubarb, raspberry, ginger, etc.) as an early favorite from the restaurant’s friends and family preview services.
SoClutch has invested in The Sporting Club’s design. The 5,000-square-foot space features a retractable roof as well as antique chandeliers and “topiary wallpaper.” An Airstream trailer painted Veuve Clicquot yellow serves cocktails on the 3,000-square-foot patio.
Owner Dan Wierck explains that the roof is inspired by a similar installation he saw in Chicago. “The weather in Houston is sunny and nice for the most part. We thought we’d take advantage of that.”