Pedestrian At Best

Food News: The First Main Street Patio Is Open

Plus, O.K.R.A. Charity Saloon has closed ... but get ready for something new.

By Timothy Malcolm March 15, 2021

Little Dipper now has a street patio.

On Thursday, the Organized Kollaboration on Restaurant Affairs (O.K.R.A.) announced that its O.K.R.A. Charity Saloon, which donated its profits to local charities ($1.3 million over eight years) will cease to be.

But also in the announcement O.K.R.A. revealed that the bar space has been transferred into the care of longtime saloon general manager Mary Ellen Angel, who purchased it from O.K.R.A. for $10. Angel plans to operate her own bar in the space, keeping the spirit of the saloon alive by donating a portion of the profits to charities.

"Building O.K.R.A. with my peers in the industry remains my proudest accomplishment in my career," said Bobby Heugel, founding president of O.K.R.A., the organization that lobbies for restaurants and bars in Houston, "but I feel confident in this transition, knowing that Mary Ellen will continue to maintain the bar as a cornerstone of Houston’s downtown experience.”

The building that housed the saloon is one of Houston's oldest, dating to the 1880s. Angel plans to host a grand opening of her bar when that concept is ready, per the announcement. 

Speaking of Downtown Houston: Little Dipper is the first establishment to open a street patio as part of the More Space: Main Street initiative. More Space: Main Street allows restaurants and bars on Main between Commerce and Rusk streets to expand their patios into the roadway. Traffic can no longer drive on Main in this area.

“The timing for this program couldn’t be better,” said Bob Eury, Downtown District president, in a press release. “With more than 160,000 office workers Downtown, small and mid-sized employers are returning with major employers expecting between 20 and 30 percent of their workforce back in the office come January. People want to support our local businesses, and even with a vaccine on the horizon, outdoor dining will continue to be a much needed and desired amenity for our food establishments.”

Rakkan Ramen, a health-forward ramen concept from Christopher Lav, a franchise owner of Pokeworks, is set to open in early April at M-K-T (600 N Shepherd Dr). Find plant-based broths for ramen bowls, plus rice bowls, and gluten-free noodles at Rakkan, which has five locations in America. This will be the first Rakkan Ramen in Texas.

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