Houston Bar Pros Jump in with a New Concept at a Boutique Heights Hotel

Toucan's Swim Club will feature a menu from one of the minds behind Cherry Block Craft Butcher & Kitchen.

By Lauro Rojas October 28, 2020

Later this year, a new food and drink concept inside a new Heights boutique hotel hopes to help change the staycation game in Houston.

Levi Tatum and business partner Wes Bray are developing Toucan’s Swim Club at the Heights House Hotel, taking over 2,000 square feet inside and 4,000 square feet of tropical fun outside with TVs, turf, outdoor furniture, and a pool with a cabana and loungers.

The hotel, developed by Jivar Foty of Benchmark Insurance Group of Texas and Rise Construction, and businessman George Giannukos, is located on the old Astro Inn property at 100 W Cavalcade St. It aims to have a retro-modern aesthetic while keeping modern times in mind.

“Jivar and George are local Houstonians doing the hotel renovation and were looking for a tenant to come in and lease the restaurant, bar, outdoor area,” says Tatum. “I met with them for a walkthrough and decided it was a cool, original project with tons of opportunity.”

Tatum and Bray have a history of creating top-notch experiences for Houstonians, establishing in early 2018 the bar High & Dry, a Main Street haunt that helped to introduce rum-forward cocktails to the city. 

“We established High & Dry with the goal to break the stigma around overly sweet rums and rum cocktails in a resort-like oasis in the heart of Downtown Houston,” Tatum says. 

With more than 200 hand-selected rums from around the world, High & Dry was named one of America’s best bars of 2018 by GQ. But since the Covid-19 pandemic came to Houston, bringing a mandate for all bars to cease operations in March, High & Dry has ostensibly been collecting dust. That led Tatum and Bray to devise a new plan and go all in on this new project.

Toucan’s will be classified as a bar and grill, with a full bar and tropical-leaning food menu developed by Jessica Timmons, chef and co-founder of Cherry Block Craft Butcher & Kitchen at Bravery Chef Hall. Toucan’s will be open from 4 p.m. to midnight Sunday–Thursday and from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday–Saturday.

With the location just a hop and a skip away from such popular venues as White Oak Music Hall, and not very far from both Washington Avenue and Downtown nightlife, it’s easy to see how the hotel and its bar and grill may become a staycation destination for Houstonians. Details are still coming in, but Tatum and Bray hope to open doors in late 2020.

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