Bar Beat

A Chat with Erin Carter of Strip House

Who says there's no such thing as loyalty in the world? Walk into the bordello-red bar at Strip House when Erin Carter is working, and you'll see some of the most ardent regulars in town. "I worked for Ibiza for three years, and a lot of these guys are regulars that followed me here," says Carter, before giving me all their names, occupations and where their offices are. It's obvious that if asked, she could rattle off their drinks, the names of their kids and their shoe sizes as well. "I've known them for three years, they're like family. I'm catering a luau for a friend of one next week--we're doing a whole roasted pig. It's gonna be a challenge, but we're going to do it. Seriously, they are great guys."

When Carter says catering, she's not talking about Strip House, she's referring to her own company. "It's called A Time to Dine Catering and Special Events. I usually work here Wednesday, Thursday and Friday all day and maybe every other Saturday, and then I do that on the side and on the weekends. It keeps me pretty busy."

The catering business is the reason Carter switched from Ibiza to Strip House: "The chef and owner of Ibiza is a good friend of the GM here, and he called and told him I was looking for something with a little less hours, something more flexible. So they really helped me out. Ibiza is really fast-paced -- you're always in chaos and have to hustle the whole time. This is more fine dining, people come out and want the whole dinner experience, but we do get a good happy hour crowd. It depends on what's going on downtown. If there's a convention, we are going crazy back here. And then House of Blues has a lot of impact on us. Sammy Hagar just played, and we had a lot of people in here that were going to the show."

Maybe this sounds like a lot of kumbaya spin, but Carter couldn't be more sincere when talking about her work family. "The best thing about working here is the management and the staff. Every day at three-thirty the chef makes a family meal. I've never been with a company that did that--and this is a corporate restaurant! They make different stuff, pasta or fried rice; it's always really good. We have a big table in the back, and everyone will sit down together and have a meal."

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Sarah Rufka