Clutch City Squire opened on Tuesday in a building at 410 Main that allegedly was once a brothel. The bar, a collaboration between long-time bartender Steve Hannigan and food writer/novelist Jenna Gleespen, is simply decorated space that's restored the historic building's original bones by exposing the brick walls and wood floors. There's a new bar top that replaced a "cheesy" predecessor, and the bar itself has been moved back for more room. Although the upstairs isn't ready for customers yet, Hannigan expects it to be more intimate than first floor's the wide-open space.
For Hannigan, Clutch City represents the realization of a dream he's been chasing since 2007. A group of Catbirds regulars encouraged him to set out on his own until the economy fell apart and the would-be investors got cold feet. Hannigan searched for a space off and on for five years, but the process only got serious when Gleespen heard his ideas and said "I'd go in on something like that." Gleespen calls Hannigan the "creative mind behind" the "upscale dive" but says "I'll definitely call it home."
As for the decision to open downtown, Hannigan says the Original OKRA Charity Saloon inspired him to start looking at spaces. He found that downtown's "beautiful old buildings" are the antidote to how "strip-mally" other parts of Houston feel. With Goro and Gun, Bad News Bar and Batanga all on track to join Clutch City by April 1, downtown's revived bar and restaurant scene continues to look like one of the big stories in Houston food.