When Red Dwarf decided to go ahead and open last summer, owners Shan Pasha, his sister Sarina Pasha and James Koby Boren knew they would be facing major challenges that go beyond the normal challenges of operating a music venue, coffee shop, cafe and bar all rolled up into one.
“It’s been really stressful,“ says Shan Pasha. “Many, many, many sleepless nights but we are trying to figure it out along the way.”
His sister recently organized a GoFundMe to help the venue stay afloat amid rising costs due to taxes and operational expenses combined with limited clientele due to pandemic restrictions and people’s general feeling of uncertainty about visiting public places.
“The way we initially navigated these waters was with the hopes that people would do to-go orders and whatnot but there's only so long that people want to do that and it's just been exhausting.”
Red Dwarf was designed to be a one stop shop for the daily commuters passing through or stopping in Midtown, designed to meet the needs of Houstonians from morning to night. Unfortunately for the venue, many commuters who would have been potential customers are now working from home and skipping the commute altogether.
The venue has been operating normally thus far providing food, coffee and drinks. They are following all COVID-19 precautions including hourly sanitation, temperature checks upon arrival, mandatory masks and tables placed at least six feet apart in their spacious indoor area and outdoor patio.
Pasha gladly reports that they have had zero issues with enforcing safety precautions and that people gladly respect the rules and limits.
Red Dwarf also has the advantage of a large parking lot making it easy to get in and out and large windows they can open to maintain better air circulation. In an attempt to provide the safe and social experiences they set out to hold since inception, they have been holding Tuesday evening movie nights, DJ nights and brunches and art shows. In the month of February they will also be hosting burlesque nights.
Many of Red Dwarf’s visiting DJ’s are some of Houston’s most active musicians who during COVID shutdowns, have had few to no stages to play on making Red Dwarf even more important to the city’s music community.
“They are very involved with the local scene and they have been for years,” says Drag who is not only a frequent guest DJ but also friends with the Pasha’s. “They care about Houston and they care about the scene so I think them opening their venue, it’s a good thing for the town, especially since our venues are dwindling basically.”
Hopefully as the year rolls on, live music and our city's venues and theaters will be able to return as they once were, but for Red Dwarf, despite their immense efforts, it’s as if they never even got the chance to realize their initial plan.
“They haven't been able to host real shows so they've really been trying to fill the calendar. I think they've done a great job of it so far; it’s just a matter of people knowing that there's an available space to have something to drink, eat and listen to music,” says Drag.
“Every month we see just not the sales that we were hoping for, says Pasha. “Ideally whenever the vaccine kicks in, people will start to feel a little more comfortable so we are hoping to float until there's some semblance of normalcy,” says Pasha adding, “Honestly, every little penny helps at this point.”
Red Dwarf is located at 1011 Mc Gowen and is open daily from
8 a.m. noon to 10 p.m. for dine-in and take out. Donations accepted through GoFundMe.