Clumsy Butcher Group Announces Plans for New Downtown Bar: Nightingale

For months, we've been hearing about Trigger Happy, Clumsy Butcher's craft beer and wine bar set to open at 308 Main next to Goro & Gun and beneath Captain Foxheart's Bad News Bar & Spirit Lodge, but earlier this week we found out about a change of plans.

Trigger Happy will now become The Nightingale Room, helmed by current OKRA Charity Saloon general manager Mike Criss. So how did one bar become another seemingly overnight?

"I approached Bobby about Nightingale, and he thought it was a great idea," Criss explains. "I think Bobby wanted to go with more diversity on the block. I don't think that we'll never see Trigger Happy. I think it was just that The Nightingale Room would be cool here."

The plans for the space certainly sound cool. Criss says the name is inspired by the bird, "because I'm kind of a songbird." Criss used to be a songwriter (and an accountant), before he got into the bar and restaurant industry. After working for Anvil Bar & Refuge and OKRA for some time, his goal is to create an inviting space where musicians can come play and patrons can enjoy a relaxing evening of live jazz or blues.

"I'd love to have the community bring in bands they want to see," Criss says. "I want to show bands that Houston can be a cool place to come listen to live music. The more music venues you have, the more artists will start coming."

Criss intends to turn the shotgun-style space into a multi-purpose entertainment venue complete with a raised stage at the back of the bar for musicians and DJs and a dance floor for jumping and jiving on Fridays and Saturdays. In keeping with the nightingale theme, candlelit bird cages will hang from the ceiling, in addition to large chandeliers and mirrors to diffuse the low lighting.

Unlike Trigger Happy, which was poised to focus on beer and wine, The Nightingale Room will have a full bar featuring a special draw: punch.

"Think about every party you ever went to, and they always had punch there," Criss says. "It has so much history, but not a lot of bars take it serious. It really brings back the mixing of cocktails. I'd like to have a punch of the day." He pauses and reconsiders. "Or a punch of the week."

Criss and Clumsy Butcher are aiming for a March 2014 opening, and it's clear from the excitement in Criss's voice that he can't wait to bring his vision to life.

"Personally, for me, I like bars with really good energy," Criss says. "I think that sometimes people forget to have fun in bars. And I like to bring that sense of fun with live music, so people can hang out and create memories."

Though the venue's opening is still months away, Criss is already imagining the fun nights of drinking and dancing that will take place in the hip strip off Market Square.

"I want people to be like, remember when we went to that bar and it was awesome? I have those stories. That's what bars are really about ... memories. That's what I'd like it to be."

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