Rich's, the popular but troubled Midtown dance club, has quietly reopened under a new ownership group after the landlord evicted previous tenants in May.
The venue at 2401 San Jacinto is now operated by a group of investors calling itself Rich's Sacred Ground Inc. According to Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission records, a new liquor license for the club was granted on September 26.
Partner and new Rich's general manager Patrick Jackanich says he has in been in the club business 27 years, including owning The Pig. That music venue at Richmond and Greenbriar featured popular local acts in the early to mid-'90s, such as Beat Temple, Zen Archer, Venus In Furs and Trish & Darin.
Even before its most recent trouble, Rich's was a regular stop on the TABC's rounds for years. The agency's records show that, across five different ownership groups, the establishment at 2401 San Jacinto has been cited on a regular basis dating back to at least 1997. The previous tenant, Club Rich's LLC, was flagged seven times between April 2011 and April 2012, including two violations for permitting minors to possess or consume alcohol.
Al Van Huff, attorney for Club Rich's LLC, characterized the infractions as routine for a club of Rich's size. He says his clients and the landlord, 2401 San Jacinto LLC, resolved their claims and "part of that resolution was that Club Rich's LLC was no longer going to be the tenant there."
In May, both companies were sued for wrongful death in Harris County District Court by a Katy woman whose son, Jason Jefferson, died in February after allegedly being beaten by a Rich's employee. The suit is still pending.
"We consider the suit to be without merit," says Van Huff, noting that no arrests were made and the employee in question was no-billed by a grand jury. "I really don't see that going anywhere."
Van Huff added that the people behind Club Rich's LLC are now involved in other nightclubs in the area, which he declined to name.
There's no question Rich's has had a colorful past. It opened in 1983 and has supposedly been visited by a host of celebrities over the years, including Barbara Striesand, The Pointer Sisters, Patti LaBelle, Liza Minelli, Madonna, Grace Jones, Boy George, Dave Navarro, Jenna Jameson, Tito Ortiz, Cher, the Pet Shop Boys and Cyndi Lauper.
Jackanich says Rich's has already reinstated some of its most popular events, such as the Thursday-night college night. It will soon add a four-hour live remote broadcast simulcast on 95.7 FM and three cash drops that will each scatter $1,000 from confetti cannons across the dance floor. The "freak shows" on the last Saturday of every month will return as well, he adds.
Further plans include "EDM Fridays," featuring DJs such as Miami's Robbie Rivera and Chicago's Bad Boy Bill. Seattle house veteran Donald Glaude is scheduled to spin tonight.
Next year Jackanich says Rich's will begin renovations to its upper rooms, including the famous "Red Room," into a performance area for both DJs and live musicians.
"We're going to start converting this into a room that we call the studio, where its' going to have the look and feel of a recording studio," he says. "And as we do the remodel up there, we're going to add in the components of a recording studio, so that when musicians are in town, whether they're local musicians or they're touring, if they want to lay down a track, then they can come to Rich's in the daytime.
"Eventually, long-term, if things keep going in the right direction, we'd love to have our own label," he adds.
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Jackanich says he also wants to revive the club's "over-the-top" theme parties.
"I'm taking them to even some other level," he says. "I'm talking goats, monkeys -- anything to make our theme parties outrageously memorable."