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Beloved Downtown Bar OKRA Charity Saloon Permanently Calls It Quits

Longtime general manager Mary Ellen Angel will open a new bar in the historic space

The Original OKRA Charity Saloon
OKRA Charity Saloon
Julie Soefer

OKRA Charity Saloon, the Downtown Houston bar known for its philanthropic contributions to local nonprofits, will not reopen its doors.

Operated by the “Organized Kollaboration on Restaurant Affairs,” a restaurant advocacy collective that includes restaurateurs Bobby Heugel, former president Miriam Carrillo, and Paulie Petronella, OKRA closed its doors in March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic began raging in Texas. According to a statement issued by the group, the closure will allow its founders to “focus on the recovery of their own businesses and other charitable endeavors following the impact of COVID on the broader restaurant and bar industry.”

Since it opened in 2012, the bar raised more than a million dollars for Houston charitable organizations via selling cocktails to Downtown denizens.

In what the group is calling its “final act of charity,” OKRA Charity Saloon was sold to its longtime general manager Mary Ellen Angel for a whopping $10. In the coming months, she’ll open an as-yet-unnamed bar in the space at 924 Congress Street, and plans to donate a portion of proceeds to local charities.

Angel has not yet announced more details on the bar she’s planning to open in OKRA Charity Saloon’s stead, but it appears that this longtime Downtown favorite remains in good hands.

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