Hugh O’Connors, a reimagination of the classic Irish bar for a new generation, is opening a second location in Houston’s Energy Corridor.
Named after one of the first Irishmen to set foot in Texas, Hugh O’Connors was created by two Irishmen who now call Texas home. A haven for those seeking Ireland’s famous hospitality, Hugh O’Connors Eldridge will feature a menu of whiskey-based cocktails, craft beer, pizza, and the freshest Guinness in the city. The concept reimagines the traditional Irish bar and brings the experience into the 21st century.
When owners David Roche and Peter Kingston first arrived in America in 2012 to scout locations for their first stateside business, they found that most were rarely run by anybody Irish. They saw this as an opportunity to bring a modern reinterpretation of the classic and beloved Irish bar to the states rooted in their experiences from Ireland. They saw potential in Houston’s growing demand for new dining and drinking experiences, and the increasing number of tourists visiting the city.
In 2014, the duo took over operations of Brian O’Neil’s, a popular Irish pub in Houston’s Rice Village. They remodeled the interior and revamped the menu to serve brighter, edgier takes on classic dishes. Renaming the bar Gorgeous Gael, they introduced an updated version of the classic Irish bar while maintaining the traditional warmth and welcoming atmosphere people instantly associate with the genre. They were strongly backed by some of Ireland’s most prominent brands, Jameson and Guinness, who saw value in what they were bringing to the market and wanted to help reinvigorate people’s perception of Irish culture.
After closing Gorgeous Gael and opening Hugh O’Connors in Northwest Houston, David and Peter believe the concept is ready to expand to a second location, this time in Houston’s Energy Corridor.
In addition to a bar stocked with outstanding bourbons, scotches and whiskeys, as well as Jameson-infused cocktails, fresh Guinness pours and craft beers, the new Hugh O’Connors location will offer a food menu of fresh pizzas cooked onsite in their pizza oven and barbecue from neighboring restaurant, Houston Barbecue Company.
A robust TV package will be on display for sports-loving Houstonians. In addition to American sports, they’ll also show soccer matches from around the world — most notably the English Premier League, which has an enormous Irish following — as well as rugby and more. Hugh O’Connors's original Marq*E center location is the meeting point for the official Liverpool Supporters Club of Houston as well as Notre Dame’s official Houston bar. Similar partnership opportunities are being explored for Hugh O’Connors Eldridge. Live music and DJs will provide additional entertainment and help keep the ambiance balanced between cozy and lively.
Paving the way for a new class of modern Irish bars, Hugh O’Connors retains the warm and welcoming atmosphere Irish bars are known for while breathing new life into the experience to create something exciting for a new generation of drinkers.
Perhaps the most notable aspect of Hugh O’Connors as an Irish bar in Houston is its genuinely Irish ownership. Kingston and Roche are two of the few Irish bar owners, operators, and restaurateurs in the city, and having spent most of their lives in Ireland are best positioned to know the culture they’re sharing.
Both men are from Cork, near Ireland’s southern coast, and worked in the food, beverage, and hospitality businesses long before moving to the U.S. to pursue their most recent venture. The pair began running the Western Star bar in Cork’s city center in 2000, and while David subsequently went on to run his family business — the Innishannon House Hotel, where he oversaw all matters relating to the hotel and its food — Peter opened and began running another bar in Cork.
The overhead costs can be kept relatively low with a single food item offered from their pizza oven. By streamlining the menu, food waste and costs can be reduced, and a partnership with their neighboring business, Houston Barbecue Company — a resident of the property for almost 20 years — will garner both spots more recognition while providing patrons with another fabulous food option.
One of the most exciting aspects to Hugh O’Connors Eldridge is its partnership with Jameson and Guinness. Both brands are Irish institutions and have tremendous market recognition. Their backing of Hugh O’Connors speaks volumes about the bar’s authenticity, and both companies plan to have official brand dinners at the bar around St. Patrick’s Day.
There are exciting opportunities for Hugh O’Connors Eldridge to expand the successful sports programming found at the original location. They currently host the official watch parties for all Notre Dame games and Liverpool FC matches, a soccer team whose stateside support continues to grow along with support for the game. NBC Sports purchased the broadcast rights several years ago, making the English Premier League one of the easiest foreign soccer contests to consume and most supported in the U.S. Hugh O’Connors is also the official bar of their local Houston rugby team, the SaberCats, and the local Gaelic football team, and have successfully increased their business with sponsorships and radio spots on ESPN Houston’s Soccer Matters with Glen Davis.
By having both Irish and American directors and operators at Hugh O’Connors, they’ve been able to bring the best of both worlds to create a true melting pot, where authentic Irish ambiance meets American hospitality standards. No matter their heritage, guests will always feel welcome at this authentically Irish bar.
Roche and Kingston identified the Energy Corridor (1127 Eldridge Parkway) as the ideal place to expand after observing the area’s growing influx of business travelers and the lack of authentic local establishments serving an increasingly young, affluent residential demographic.
The Energy Corridor is a large business district and a hub of office campuses for energy industry titans like BP America, Citgo, and Shell Oil Company. An underserved market when it comes to dining and drinking options, the closest bar is over a mile away. Three nearby hotels – Staybridge Suites, Holiday Inn, and Residence Inn – numbering a combined 465 rooms regularly post 90% occupancy.
In addition to offices, the pedestrian-friendly area has increasingly become residential, seeing lots of young professionals moving in. The Energy Corridor is also developing transportation options such as bus routes, vanpools, carpools, and bike paths to accommodate for the growth in population they are experiencing. The population growth is largely composed of affluent professionals working in the oil & gas industry.
The Energy Corridor is less than a 30-minute drive from the city center, easily accessible via two of Houston's main arteries: Interstate 10 and Highway 6.