Permission Whiskey owner promises cool new tune at jazzy Heights cocktail bar
Nolan, who opened Permission in 2020, tells CultureMap that Ready Room owner Ken Bridge approached him about taking over operations at the bar. He adds that he and Bridge, whose interests include Korean steakhouse Mapojeong and successful local chain Pink’s Pizza, know each from Nolan’s time working at Ready Room before he opened Permission.
Even better, Nolan met his business partner at Permission while working at Ready Room.
Opened by Bridge and bartender Peter Clifton in 2018, Nolan sees Ready Room as a companion to Permission that serves more familiar cocktails in an intimate environment that’s anchored by live music. Changes to the interior will be limited, but he plans to expand the patio with more greenery and make it cigar friendly.
“It’s a really good ship. It just needs a captain,” Nolan says. “It’s a beautiful little bar. We knew right away since we had a history there.”
If Nolan is Ready Room’s new captain, then general manager Himanshu Desai is his first mate. Desai, who earned a CultureMap Tastemaker Awards Bartender of the Year nomination for his work at Musaafer, is known for both his friendly demeanor and utilizing culinary techniques in his cocktail recipes.
“He’s ridiculously fantastic,” Nolan says about Desai. “He’s definitely the vibe we’re looking for. He’s a host but also a creator. We’re super excited to see what happens with that.”
One thing he’s learned from talking to regulars is that they like being in an environment with live music but still want to be able to talk to their friends. To facilitate that environment, expect smaller ensembles centered around the space’s piano who can enhance the ambiance without dominating the room. At the same time, he doesn’t want the environment to be too staid.
“If people want to get up and dance, we’ll move the tables,” he said. “If you want [the band] to play your favorite song, we’re on it.”
Ultimately, Nolan envisions a symbiotic relationship between the two bars. People could start their night at Permission, grab dinner at a restaurant like Coltivare or Karne, then end the night at Ready Room. He’s confident the two bars will each find an audience.
“I think Permission is one of the best bars in the country. If we do what we do, I think Ready Room will sail alongside that ship,” he says.
“It will be one of the best jazzy music joints in all of Houston. I want it to be a destination for sure.”