With an anime-inspired theme, patrons will find that Houston’s newest nightclub is nothing like they’ve ever seen before. Following in similar footsteps as Cherry, the Houston bar with an early '80s motif, Zenaku, is the second and most recent downtown concept from Carson Hager’s Hospitable Viking Group. Thematically, Zenaku goes one step further than his other concepts, and the minute that guests walk in the doors, they’ll be transported to a colorful hideaway that comes alive at night.
"So the narrative of what would lead us to all of our design decisions and how we took this thing on was you, as our customer, live in an anime version of San Francisco," Hager tells Houstonia that the idea is "The customer heard about this new nightclub near Japantown that has this wild dance floor with these crazy motion, and projection all over the walls."
With a vision of something out-of-the-norm in Houston, Hager hopes that guests will get a wild experience at his new bar, comparing Zenaku to something one might see in Las Vegas. He knows it’s an idea that not everyone will appreciate, but Hager says he’s willing to push the envelope with his conception.
Hager leans on his former career in tech and his now sold-software company, SafeFun, to bring his idea to life. Using elements such as digital mapping, a technique that includes a system of cameras and computers, and anime-inspired graphics and art, Zenaku goes from an unassuming bar to a lively, immersive experience. On the first floor, guests can expect to see high energy from every corner of the bar, with an eccentric dance floor and everything alive一including the walls. Upstairs is an intimate, semi-exclusive lounge area where patrons will have the option to enjoy six sections that will be open for reservations and bottle service.
"Anime is fantastic for nightclubs, it is truly visual," the owner says. "It is hyper-sexualized, it has all kinds of themes and varieties of great storytelling things we love."
With the control at his fingertips, Hager can pick and choose whether or not the paintings are static, or in motion, like having the pictorials wink at guests. He also has the ability to completely change the graphics displayed, but according to Hager, those who want to know more about the nightclub’s exclusive features will have to see it for themselves upstairs after midnight. These motion graphics can also be seen when ordering drinks, with the bar turns into one giant TV screen, where the menu quite literally floats in front of them. Zenaku’s cocktail menu also aligns with the theme of the nightclub, with anime-inspired drinks from well-known characters.
"Come have fun," Hager says. "Come dance, come look at some crazy stuff on the walls. Come you know, bring your friends, get nuts."
Houstonians wanting to be immersed into the San Francisco anime-inspired story of Zenaku can visit, starting November 12. Zenaku will be open Friday to Saturday from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.