Astute readers of the Houston Press' and Rocks Off's local concert calendars might have noticed that a new venue is pulling some names into town. Sidled up to the Gulf Freeway just minutes from Hobby Airport, The Flamingo Room is Houston's newest mid-level venue.
Rumors of the establishment's launch have floated around for a couple months, but The Flamingo Room is finally ready to open its doors. Lined up on the agenda are shows for Molly Hatchet (June 18), reggaeton duo Chino y Nacho (June 30), Fastball (July 22), metal masters Lynch Mob (July 29), Taylor Hicks (Sept. 16), Blue Oyster Cult (Nov. 10), and Mickey Gilley, with many more to come.
Promoter Bob Fuldauer, formerly a partner in The Meridian before things really went sour, has been acting in an advisory capacity to property owner Gil Ramirez, and took us on a tour of the complex last week.
We say complex because The Flamingo Room is more than just a venue. Walking up to the building, it's immediately evident that the space is a bit different - the venue sits alongside Paco Joe's, a Latin restaurant whose menu focuses on Colombian, Venezuelan, Peruvian and Puerto Rican offerings.
"This used to be an office building; these were all cubicles and offices," Ramirez informs us as we join him at a table. "You'd never know, huh?"
Indeed, the structural change is impressive, but not without reason: Ramirez has his own construction company. Paco Joe's and The Flamingo Room are his first ventures into the restaurant and entertainment industries.
The restaurant is segmented, with the main floor hosting tables among the eclectic décor. An L-shaped addition called the Sun Room hugs the building, with a stage anchoring its elbow. Upstairs, an open balcony overlooks the main floor, with bottle service and a DJ booth, along with an outdoor patio.
The wash of the adjacent freeway traffic sounds like a roaring ocean, but Fuldauer informs us that bands on the balcony blow out the sound.
In addition, Paco Joe's boast a "Celebrity Room" in the rear, with large paintings of Santana and Selena donning the walls. Fuldauer says this space will be used for VIP meet-and-greets and signings. Behind this is a renovated conference room, lined with wood and glass cabinets.
"This'll be another room for a band to get drunk," Fuldauer declares, informing us that the cabinets will be full of tequila - hence its name the Tequila Room.
The Flamingo Room sits next to Paco Joe's, boasting its own set of double doors and a neon-signed box office. Inside, the split level venue has a capacity of 1,000 people - 600 downstairs and an additional 400 upstairs.
When we walk in, downstairs is filled with tables, and the room setup looks like the stage should host a comic or perhaps dinner theatre. Fuldauer is quick to inform us that the tables will clear out for shows, offering up plenty of floor space for concertgoers. A huge bar at the back, along with smaller bars on the side and upstairs, offer a swath of libations.
Fuldauer also buzzes over the VIP rooms - two small areas upstairs positioned so that patrons will be overlooking the stage. It's a unique view that no other venue offers, at least to our knowledge.
Fuldauer admits that his role is merely advisory, and while he's brought in the booker for the venue, that person wishes to remain anonymous thus far. Rocks Off won't disclose his name, but we can say that this person has experience booking at this level.
As we walk out, Bob joins us, noting that the massive parking lot stretches far beyond the building. He claims that parking is available for 1,500 people, and that the establishment offers free valet and staffs plenty of security at night.
Additionally, he tells us that Ramirez owns the entire plaza, which includes two more buildings to the south side of the parking lot. These are also slated for renovation, with Ramirez set to turn one into a hotel and the second into another venue.
It's an ambitious venture, but if there's a part of town that's ripe for such a complex, this seems to be it. The neighborhood will bring in crowds for the Latin acts, and Hobby Airport is literally less than three miles away. With its large parking lot and big names on the bill, Rocks Off can see plenty of concertgoers driving in from nearby Clear Lake and Friendswood as well.
It's only a 12 miles from downtown to boot, so we're bound to be out there before long.
See more photos of the Flamingo on the next page.
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