At Jack’s Pub this past Saturday, there was a celebration for the bar’s fourth birthday.

All the wackiness that you’d expect from this down-home Sundance Square-area watering hole was in evidence – owner Tony Rodriguez chipping off bottle caps with one hand and refilling pretzel bowls with the other, young men and women downing shots, rowdy songs on the juke. But, sadly, not only was this night a cause for celebration, it was a night to remember: Jack’s Pub is closing for good on Halloween.

The Houston Street building that houses the pub has been sold to XTO Energy. Though Rodriguez tried to swing a deal, he was denied any renewal opportunities. (There was a rumor going around that the Pour House, in an adjacent building, was also on its way out. But owner Eric Chetter denies that his club’s going anywhere.) XTO did not return calls for comment.

Sure, clubs come and go like the wind, but there’s something about this bar’s closing that has Last Call a little misty-eyed – namely the demise of yet another ma-and-pa club in chain-friendly downtown. Now that the Black Dog Tavern will be relocating to the Cultural District, there are only (one, two, three …) about four or five downtown clubs not owned by mega-corporations that are worth visiting, including Malone’s, the Red Goose Saloon, and Blade’s Prime Chophouse. The rest are all high-volume, little personality. Take a look at Jack’s: Even though its personality was a complete lack thereof, at least it was something, y’know, different. The Library downtown is pretty much the same Library in Lubbock as in Austin as in Minneapolis. Blech!


People who love Funkytown, y’all are going to have to realize that the types of clubs that make this city – any city – unique are ever so slowly disappearing. Jack’s is the most recent but certainly not the last.

Bikers R Us

Well, whaddaya know: The Gods of Commerce taketh away, and the Gods of Commerce giveth. On East Belknap, on the outskirts of downtown, has recently popped up the first (far as I know) “ice house” in Cowtown. (There are tons of ice houses in Houston – why aren’t there that many here?)

The Underground Ice House & Grill is the love child of Hooters and the Smoke Pit. In the spot formerly occupied by the Hispanic gay club Azul Iquita, the Underground is all biker paraphernalia, waitresses in chaps and skimpy t’s, and beer, beer, beer. Like every other “biker” bar today, the Underground is hardly underground. The service is Johnny-on-the-spot, the parking ample, and the accoutrements (from the lighting to the restrooms) five-star hotel-ish.

While almost every (aging) biker has accepted that the counter-culture represented in gleaming chrome and burnin’ rubber has been repackaged by corporate America into family-friendly fun, Last Call is still holdin’ out. As you sit and drink and laugh it up and ogle the waitresses at the Underground, just ask yourself, “What would the guys from Easy Rider think?”

In a couple-a words: Not much.

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