Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Usual Neighborhood Pub

The Usual Neighborhood Pub

Location: 5519 Allen Street, Houston, Texas, USA

Opened: 2008

Closed: 2014

The latest victim in the Great Lesbian Bar Die-Off. From culturemap Houston:

Popular lesbian bar closes, but owners vow to reopen in new location

The Usual bar in Houston with crowd in patio


Trying to find a lesbian bar in Houston seems at times like going on the quest for the holy grail. Chances shut down in late 2010 when owner Nick Vastakis decided to move out of bar management and into property development, and recently The Usual Neighborhood Pub has joined the list. Owners of the bar, located near T.C. Jester and the Katy Freeway, announced its fate on its Facebook page:
We are closing The Usual for good at this location but we are on the hunt for our new spot! We planned on remodeling but our landlord refused to pay for all the roofing and electrical needs (as most of you know was much needed) … we unfortunately had to make the decision to move…we will be absent for a short while but will return soon and can't wait to see all of you! We can't thank everyone enough for being apart of this great bar, all of you have made it what it is and that's something to remember!…keep you posted!”
Last week, regulars gathered with current management and past employees to pay tribute to the bar as it closed. Owners could not be reached for comment.

The Houston Press named the bar to its list of Top 10 Gay Bars, Clubs & Icehouses last summer, citing a great selection of microbrews and Internet jukebox, air hockey, a large patio with picnic benches and dog-friendly environs, and describing the atmosphere as "a little like Cheers with better decor and a better beer selection."

For now, it looks like the only dedicated lesbian bar left is the newly renovated Pearl Bar. Other options include Guava Lamp and JR’s Bar and Grill, which draw a gay clientele but are lesbian-friendly, and newcomer Barbarella, an alternative bar that draws a gay-and-lesbian-friendly crowd.

So what else can we add to the obituary? Well, it was once awarded the Best Lesbian Bar award:

Best Lesbian Bar Houston 2012 - The Usual - CLOSED
The Usual
Since the demise of Lower Westheimer mainstay Chances, the Usual has been Houston's only lesbian bar, so luckily it's a good one. Not exclusively for ladies who love ladies, the Usual sports an inviting front porch with a sweet view of some nearby train tracks, great deals on wine, and frequent raucous karaoke nights. After an evening so close and yet so far from the Usual, in the vast valet-bedeviled douchatoria of the Washington Avenue strip, the Usual's laid-back neighborhood vibe will restore your faith in the human race.
Dancers at The Usual (December 2013)

Here's the piece on The Usual from the Top 10 Gay Bars piece cited above. Notice that there is no mention of this being a lesbian space:

The Usual patrons (December 2013)

Air hockey? Check. Picnic benches? Check. Dog-friendly? Check and double-check. The Usual is a comfortable place for everyone to hang out, no matter what your orientation, a little like Cheers with better decor and a better beer selection. It's casual, gay-friendly, and the Internet jukebox provides endless possibilities. In short, we could live there, especially with the selection of microbrews.

Interesting that My Gay Houston doesn't even mention that this is a lesbian bar either:

After stints operating as a massage parlor, a questionable spa biz and a gambling club, the nondescript, brown building right off of Washington, near TC Jester, was transformed several years ago into a casual, neighborhood bar dubbed The Usual. Set in the Heights, The Usual provides an eclectic, post-college clientele with a casual, no-frills dive to kick back in, listen to music and enjoy a solid beer selection.
Bartender at The Usual (December 2013)

Inside, the interior is small and cozy, with five smaller, sectioned off rooms perfect for lounging and playing a round of darts. There’s also a small stage nearby that plays host to weekly karaoke night performances and a dog-friendly patio space outside with picnic table seating.

While you’re there, try out one of The Usual’s more than 60 types of beer, including hard-to-find varieties and locally-produced craft brews like Southern Star Bombshell Blonde and Saint Arnold’s Elissa IPA.

And then there is this from the Houston Press. The Usual, we are informed, isn't exactly "gay." But it is populated by a fair number of "women who prefer the company of other women":

When you hear that whistle blowin', no need to hang your head and cry, just plug your ears for a second before getting back to drinking on the cheap. The Usual, a neighborhood newcomer next to the railroad track that runs parallel to Washington Avenue, is not a gay bar per se, and it's certainly not a sleazy pick-up spot. It is a welcoming sort of establishment, though, and a good portion of the clientele is comprised of women who prefer the company of other women. The beer-garden tables out front are a great place to drink discounted beer and well drinks during happy hour.

Oh, but this is classic. We haven't come across a na├»ve-straight-guy-accidentally-stumbles-into-a-lesbian-bar story in a while, and this one is just a perfect example of the genre.

There are some 28 customer reviews at yelp, and they run the gamut. Some are positive, some are not. Some claim the place is friendly to everyone, some say the place is anti-male. Too many to really sample here, but they are always a hoot to scroll through.

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