The closing of Jimmy’s Ice House triggered a wave of nostalgia for the way The Heights used to be. Texas Monthly felt so moved by the location that a writer spent a whole Sunday there talking to regulars.
While some people just don’t like change, Ted Baker, who leased the space from local real estate developer Braun Enterprises and transformed it into Bobcat Teddy’s Icehouse, tells CultureMap that he’s done as much as he can to help regulars adjust to the new bar, which will open for the first time Saturday night at 6 pm.
“[The regulars] are worried about us coming in, fancying it up, and making it a hipster joint,” Baker says. “That’s not the intention. What we will do is honor all the old beer prices, and I’ll bring back all the beers they had.”
In addition to keeping the prices on bottled and canned beers the same as before — a very important thing for an establishment that Baker says the sixth most Lone Star in the entire state (40 cases a week) — he’s made a number of improvements that will benefit both old patrons and new ones: doubling the size of the bathrooms, enlarging the patio, and adding new TVs. Even some of the old staff is coming back.
Other changes are designed primarily to entice new patrons. For the first time, Bobcat Teddy’s will have a selection of both draft beers and spirits. Bartender Alli Genoway comes over from Revelry to lead the cocktail program, which takes its inspiration from Irish classics. As for the spirits, Baker has a simple goal.
“The plan is to have the best Irish whiskey selection in the city, which isn’t tough to do because there aren’t that many Irish whiskies. If they make it, we’re going to carry it. We’re going to put Jameson on tap, which is something no one is doing.”
The Irish theme comes as both a mix of Baker’s family heritage and professional experience. His grandmother is Irish, and he spent a dozen years working at Molly’s Pub. Baker is hoping to put his own spin on recently opened Eastside bar The New Potato, where an unpretentious atmosphere mixes with good cocktails to create a place where just about everyone is welcome.
“I wanted to have somewhere you can pull up on your bicycle, sweaty, bring your dog in, have a Lone Star, have a Jameson,” Baker says. “Then all of a sudden you look up and see Yellow Spot on the back bar.”
Food will come via a rotating cast of trucks, but Baker says he’s on the hunt for an operator who wants to serve brunch on the weekend. He envisions patrons lingering on the patio over eggs, sipping Bloody Marys (or a selection of bellinis created by Genoway) while an acoustic duo plays.
“If we can get the right people in the right place food-wise, we can crush it,” he says.
Even if it takes awhile to find the right brunch operator, bars have done worse than starting with Jameson, Lone Star, and a taxidermy bobcat.