Former EJ’s go-going from sketchy to fab

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With a long line of successes under their belts, one of Houston’s most successful restaurant-bar groups invades Montrose to inject some long-gone magic into the gay bar formerly known as EJ’s.

One of the largest parking lots in Montrose, gigantic patios and a prime spot right off Westheimer on Ralph Street make the Spanish-style building a prime piece of real estate. That draw certainly contributed to keeping EJ’s going for some 40 years. Fans of reusing instead of demolishing Houston landmarks will be glad to hear that they can still visit the “if these walls could talk” corners that they remember, even if those memories are little fuzzy.

The drag shows, strippers, and what-happens-here-stays-here gay bar days are behind the building, and the upscale bar and delicious eats are in front of it, Cottonwood COO Jake Rainey tells CultureMap.

[The building] has been quietly acquired by Cottonwood/Liberty Station partners Sara and Rob Cromie, Harres Exezidi and chief operating officer Jake Rainey for their first concept south of Buffalo Bayou. With renovations underway and a plan to open in mid-April, Rainey is telling CultureMapsome details about the bar, which they are tentatively callingLa Grange.

Cottonwoodchef Daniel Ajtai is crafting the menu, which will blend some familiar elements like burgers with Mexican-inspired small plates. …

Cocktails are also a work in progress, but Rainey says the bar will feature an extensive selection of tequila and mezcal, along with the craft beers both Liberty and Cottonwood are known for. Popular bartender Linda Salinas will likely move from Liberty Station to La Grange.

Besides an assumptive good hard scrubbing, all the things you loved about EJ’s will remain. OK, maybe not all, but the notorious and expansive patios, a great view of downtown, upstairs-downstairs outdoor bars and vast upstairs party space all remain in play. And activities, Rainey promises.

“We want to do more stuff. We don’t have a plan as far as specific concepts. We did a patio place here at Liberty Station. We have Cottonwood, which has a lot of live music and craft beer and craft cocktails.

This place will be significantly different than those two, but it will share similar qualities in that it will be full service.”

Photo by Eric Sandler for CultureMap

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