Set Your Sails
Let's be clear about this: The Nightfly is not certain what a stripper smells like.
We have an idea of what a stripper might smell like — probably fruity, and maybe a little like despair — but that's about it.
Three Sheets Bar & Grill (1900 S. Kirkwood) is a two-month-old neighborhood bar on the outer edge of Westchase that's been building up buzz among Houston dive-bar connoisseurs. And a certain mixed drink created by accident has become a trademark.
"Some of my friends were here when I was messing around making the drink," says the extra-friendly Adam Lee, proprietor. "That was one of the first things they said: It smells like a stripper."
Naturally, the conversation devolved from there into various strings of filthy adjectives, but the drink's eventual name came naturally: The Lap Dance.
"It just works on so many levels," laughs Lee. "Half-price Lap Dances at the bar! See?"
As it is, Lee is standing at one of those tall bar tables built for bar stools. He has glasses, a shaved head and an easy demeanor, and he shifts his weight back and forth, from right foot to left to right, as he answers questions.
Forty minutes ago, he was sitting at a table near the back of the room, fiddling with his laptop, getting things ready for the business days to come. As a first-time bar owner walking his venue through toddlerhood, he's usually found there. More than 70 days in, Lee has yet to take a day off.
"I just wanted my own little neighborhood dive bar," says Lee. "It's been a dream of mine. I anticipated having to work a year straight through, but it's a lot easier to say than to do."
The work has been to great effect thus far. Beyond the name — a story that involves some seamen and some booze — there isn't anything obviously impressive about Three Sheets.
It's a strip-center bar located just far enough off I-10 to dissuade those who don't live nearby to stop in. The floor and ceiling are both tiled, and there isn't anything neat or interesting on any of the walls.
Three Sheets has a few TVs, some dartboards, a Golden Tee machine and a smallish stage tucked into the back that's periodically used for karaoke. That's it. That's all.
But despite that predictability, or maybe because of it, Three Sheets is especially enjoyable.
There is no pretense, there is no shtick hipness, there is no nothing. It's just a space where people immediately feel comfortable and welcome.
"I come here five nights a week," says Melinda Hales, a 24-year-old accountant who lives in the area. "I even study here. Before this opened, I studied at Bull and Bear (11980 Westheimer). I haven't been back.
"Cuc [the bar's cook and Lee's girlfriend] and Adam just treat you like family. I mean, they took the mushrooms out of the spaghetti because they knew I didn't like them. They completely changed the recipe just for me."
Look a little closer and you'll find some Xbox 360 controllers sitting near a TV, a basket full of board games and an electronic jukebox that lists as many albums by Lady Gaga as Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Three Sheets' ordinariness is its own kind of glamor. Sometimes there's a lot to like about nothing special.
Prior to being Three Sheets, the space was a bar called The Elegant Hogg, a name that came to be either because the owner owned some sort of hot-to-trot show pig or had spent some of his days as an amateur wrestler. Those are the two most popular stories; he died of cancer, so no one could confirm which was true. Either way, Three Sheets and The Elegant Hogg have to rank pretty high in the Best Bar Names conversation.
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