I think I’ve figured out the key to success as a club owner here.

Fort Worth is populous and spread out, and in each neighborhood, you’ll likely find a sports bar, Irish-themed pub, disco, maybe a live music joint, and a lounge, all huddled together. Why drive across town to drink warm beer when you can do it right down the street?

Neighborhood Wine Web Ad (300 x 250 px)

If, like me, you have neither the time nor the liver strength to spend every night of the week at a different nearby joint, you gotta whittle your choices down to a manageable two or three core, can’t-miss hang-outs. Your short-list is determined by two chief criteria: your probability of getting free drinks and/or the likelihood that you’ll be allowed to put enormous tabs on layaway.

Both criteria are pretty much in the hands of the owner, the person with whom you should desperately be trying to establish a social bond. At a successful joint, the captain of the ship shouldn’t be hard to find, because the smart club owner knows that he needs you just as much as you need him. The more yokels he develops acquaintanceships with, the more yokels who will feel comfortable at his club, and the more often his cash register will ring.

The most successful club owners – Brian Forella (The Torch, the Wreck Room), Chris Maunder (The Moon), Darren Rhea (Neon Moon Saloon) – are all hands-on. These guys don’t tend bar every night, but even when they should be at home watching Jeopardy and choking down cold pizza, they’re out and about.

Though he doesn’t own a club, 26-year-old Alé Bonilla is a nightlife impresario and small-business owner cut from the same cloth as Forella, Maunder, and Rhea: The owner of both Esoterica salons (here and in Grapevine) is passionate about what he does. Every once in a while, Bonilla takes over a local rock club and puts on a fashion show. Most scenesters go to ogle the hot models, but not me, Jack. I go because Bonilla is a friggin nice guy and is trying to do some good, namely expose the unwashed to style. Truth be told: I’d rather spend a night out at his Fort Worth salon than at 75 percent of the clubs in town.

This Saturday, Esoterica celebrates its second anniversary by holding another fashion show, at Ridglea Theater. Tickets for E2: Fashion Show are available at both salon locations and online at; they’re $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Visit

New Wine Bar

Taking his cue from, well, just about every other bar/restaurant owner in town, Café Aspen’s David Rotman is expanding his empire a tad. Across Camp Bowie Boulevard from his upscale yet comfortable Westside eatery, Rotman has just launched Papparotti’s Wine Bar in the space formerly occupied by the Ridglea and Vine Wine Room. The food industry vet doesn’t see opening a new operation so close to his existing business as cannibalizing his customer base. The two establishments will have different wine lists, he said, and even when Papparotti’s kitchen is ready (about three months from now), no entrées will be served. Just tapas. In addition to beer, 35 wines by the glass and 14 by the bottle are available. The beautiful wooden interior has been touched up and is now a lot less Sherwood Forest-y and more Yale Library-ish, and the service is exceptional. Unlike the wine bar’s previous incarnation, Papparotti’s has a friendly, relaxed vibe – just as a wine bar should.

Patty’O Party

A few times over the past year, we here at the Weekly have partnered with Central Market to produce live music events on the store’s killer patio. The weather gods, laughing hysterically, have pissed on us every time. Our Patty’O Party this St. Patrick’s Day weekend looks to be more of the same. The good news is that time and experience have allowed us Weekleteers to master the high art of hanging out on CM’s patio in heavy wind and rain. The simple solution: Wear waterproof clothing and drink a lot … quickly. On Friday, the Irish music commences at 4 p.m. with a performance by Amberhawke, followed by Beyond the Pale at 5:30 p.m. On Saturday, the Trinity River Whalers will get the party started bright and early at 11 a.m. On their heels will be Threadneedle (1:30 p.m.), Seamus Stout (4 p.m.), and headliners Brothers 3 (6:30 p.m.). The event (rain or shine) is free. For info, call CM at 817-989-4700.

Contact Last Call at

E2: Fashion Show
Sat at Ridglea Theater, 6025 Camp Bowie Blvd, FW.

Papparotti’s Wine Bar
6100 Camp Bowie Blvd., Ste. 22, FW.

Patty’O Party
Fri-Sat at Central Market, 4651 W Fwy, Ste 100.

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