Nightlife in Downtown is booming once again thanks in part to the wave of Main Street bars that have opened over the past two years. Soon, another addition will have to Market Square jumping. Joining seven-month-old coffee house/cocktail bar The Honeymoon and The Nightingale Room, three-story lounge Henke & Pillot, one of this winter's most anticipated openings.
Replacing ERA, the pizza and sandwich cafe which closed in 2011 at 809 Congress, the new kid on the block bills itself as a "Downtown lounge + Kitchen," but it also has quite the history attached to its name. Henke & Pillot is named after the local grocery chain established by Henry Henke and Camille Pillot in the late 1800's (formerly called Henke’s New Orleans Store prior to Pillot's hiring). It's also housed in the same building once occupied by the grocery store and warehouse, which was later acquired by Kroger in 1955.
For months, co-owner Marcus Lam, who is also the proprietor of the construction company Advent Builders, spent countless days and nights building and reconstructing the Downtown venue, starting with the first floor. Most of his work can be seen throughout including the stunning bar. Lam extended the bar area, building an eye-catching backdrop of wood and mesh brass with custom-made swivel barstools. Knocking down the back wall, Lam also included a space for a stage and DJ booth. Glistening chandeliers hang high above the lounge portion, where tables are nestled close together. Royal purple sofas and chairs sit along the walls and windows.
Will Henke & Pillot be Kryptonite or Toc Bar 2.0, nearby nightlife hotspots known for their rowdy and young crowds? Brent Eidson, head of marketing says no. "The Houston based partners became enchanted with the idea of taking the historical site, and transforming it into a sophisticated, dynamic downtown lounge [and] kitchen." Eidson further notes, "as was the goal of [our] predecessors, the Henke & Pillot of today has been shaped to become a well-known and well-respected Houston establishment."
After hosting several previews, including a New Year's Eve party open to the public, Henke & Pillot will soft open today at 4 p.m., staying open until 2 a.m. with craft cocktails on the menu. The lounge's soft opening hours are 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., Wednesday through Saturday. A full drink and food menu will become available once the lounge fully opens sometime in February.
While construction on the first floor is complete, renovations on the second and third floors will continue in phases throughout the year. Live music and special events on the second floor, and a scenic rooftop bar on the third. The concept sounds similar to the one ERA wanted to achieve. Hopefully Henke & Pillot can stick around longer than the failed restaurant to put their plans into action.
Henke & Pillot Gears Up to Open in Historic Downtown Grocery Store
Everything old is new again...sort of.