Catch up with JR’s seven-figure renovation

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If you’ve been on the patio at JR’s Bar & Grill in the last 20 years, and you have, you’ve got a full bank of mental images and fond memories. Well wipe them away, because it’s time for an overhaul.

Chances are you’ve seen some million-dollar changes taking shape at the gay Houston mainstay already. If you’ve been on Pacific Street any time since January – again, if you’re gay in Houston you have – you saw the familiar Santa Fe Bar & Patio (right photo) go poof in a matter of days. The clean slate (top photo) makes way for a brand new era of outdoor memory making.

Word is that the new patio, which is Phase 2 of a million-dollar reno at the bar, will be nothing at all in size or layout like the one we all knew, though it will keep the vibe that makes JR’s the go-to bar that you love. There have been no major snags in the renovations so far, but inquiring minds are still anxious to know what's up with the flagship Charles Armstrong property.

We caught up with Jose Apodaca, director of operations for JR's, South Beach, Meteor and Mining Company, to kick up the dirt on plans and progress. He lets us in on the process, and on how high-end tastes are pushing the budget into the stratosphere for your ongoing enjoyment.

What prompted the renovation?

It was just time. It had its last update in the early 1990s. Now two decades later, it’s time for a complete overhaul. The renovation will not include items like moving walls or expanding into the second floor. It will include a complete overhaul in finishes – floors, walls, bars, lighting and sound.

So in other words, if you were transported into JR’s from the Starship Enterprise you would still know it’s JR’s. It will just be modernized for the next couple decades.

Renovations began back in September. What have you been up to?

As with nearly every construction project since the Hoover Dam, which was about the last large project completed ahead of time, it’s behind schedule. This is due to just making sure the right finishes are being selected.

What was the budget, and how has that played out?

The original expense was estimated almost exactly a million. There’s a lot to be done. However, due to selections of higher end materials (brick, tile, natural oak floors, etc) and the new double sized patio it’s climbed considerably. 

When the project is completed, how do you hope to describe it?


Keep an eye on JR’s on Facebook, Twitter, at their website, and of course as you make your way to the bar itself and your other Pacific Street favorites to see changes take place in person with a cocktail in hand.


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