Rare Steakhouse was Washington Corridor's hottest new restaurant at the top of the year. A new concept crafted by Chef Don Bowie (Taste Bar + Kitchen), the restaurant brought an upscale dining experience to the Heights area—for a time.
A VIP-style launch welcomed the restaurant's opening in March; however, it was quickly overshadowed by scandal. The restaurant was a collective effort between Chef Bowie, former Texans football star Andre Johnson, and artist and entertainer Akon. But a civil suit filed in May, claiming misappropriation of funds, quickly brought the restaurant to a complete stop.
According to court documents, Johnson and Akon contributed approximately $1.2 million to fund the restaurant, and Bowie was supposed to give an additional $700,000, money the investors don’t believe was ever supplied.
Following the opening, investors uncovered that employees and vendors weren't being paid on time or at all—attorneys for Johnson and Akon quickly hired forensic accountants to look into the books. According to a report, the restaurant was forced to close in September due to owing $140,000 in unpaid taxes.
Though the restaurant has come and gone, all is not lost for the Washington Corridor location. Johnson has acquired the space and is reimagining it into his own sports bar, 80 (just in time for the NFL playoffs, too).
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The bar's name is a nod to Johnson's former jersey number during his tenure as a wide receiver for the Texans. The logo is also indicative of the home team's colors, red, white, and blue. Johnson announced the new bar officially on his Instagram over the weekend.
The post didn't initially disclose the location of 80 Sports Bar in the announcement. Still, a photo posted to the bar's social media over the weekend indicates it will occupy the former space of Rare Steakhouse, 4105 Washington Avenue.
Most of the silent partners and investors involved with Rare will also be working behind the scenes for 80, except for Bowie, who still has pending lawsuits.
Details on the opening are scarce, and the bar's Instagram bio reads, "Houston's newest upscale Sports Bar & Lounge coming soon." Currently, 80 is hiring for multiple roles within the pub.