Bar on the Bayou

The Raven Tower Returns To Life

One of Houston's weirdest buildings will be reincarnated on January 19.

By Alice Levitt January 15, 2016

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In a story entitled "Main Street" in the February 1983 edition of Texas Monthly, writer Stephen Harrigan described R.W. Walker's residence, which was then six years old. The description included "a vivid burnt orange carpet, a stuffed iguana, a gumball machine..." There were taxidermied ravens, too, a literal embodiment of the building's name, "The Raven Tower." Walker's home had earned the name for its highly unusual design: A single-story box on top of a four-sided, six-story pillar, soaring above the headquarters of his company, Metal Enterprises.

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Metal Enterprises no more.

Walker left the building (and this mortal coil) long ago, but it will be reincarnated on Tuesday, January 19 with the opening of another Raven Tower. The new iteration is a bar from W2 Development Partners in conjunction with concert promotion company and former Fitzgerald's operators, Pegstar. But co-managing partner Johnny So says potential regulars shouldn't think of the spot as primarily a music venue. Opening night will feature a performance by Delta Spirit lead singer Matthew Logan Vasquez, though So says that music will only be a feature once or twice a week.

"Thematically, it's a very casual come-as-you-are type of place," he explains. "Primarily, it’s a bar. It’s a bar with a pretty kick-ass patio." That's an understatement. This is a rare city patio that's surrounded by green, courtesy of Little White Oak Bayou. And that's not including the odd splendor of the tower itself. 

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Music may not be the focus, but it's in the Raven Tower's heart—and walls.

The full bar will serve a small menu of creative cocktails, but So says the 24 beers on tap are more of a focus. Of those taps, he says that usually 18 of those will be Texas suds, including Real Ale Brewing and Houston producers 8th Wonder Brewery and Karbach Brewing.

In the future, another small building on the property will be converted to a food service kiosk. So says that he's in discussions with two prominent Houston restaurateurs to lead the Raven Tower's kitchen, but has yet to settle on one. "When we select our food operator for the Raven Tower, it will be a name and brand many, many Houstonians will be familiar with regardless of who we choose," he promises. That opening will likely take place in April, but until then, visitors won't be going hungry; food truck LaMacro will feed guests tacos al fresco with meat carved from a trompo.

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Twilight view from the Tower's deck.

And despite So's protestations that he's not opening a music venue, there will be plenty of space for music. Besides quiet shows on the patio a roof-covered pavilion will also host music with more sophisticated technical needs. All that space also translates to room for other events. So is already planning to host arts-and-craft sales and a regular farmers market at the Raven Tower. And another group has reached out about reserving space there: R.W. Walker's family is planning a Raven Tower reunion.


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