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The Harp @ 1625 Richmond Ave

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Braun Enterprises purchased the strip of Richmond in 2011 that included Lucky Burger, Selma Mexican (renovated to Texas Shrimp Shack last year, and closed a month or two ago (and they opened a short-lived bar too, right?)), and The Harp. There was a big uproar because everyone thought those businesses would close.  Braun promised to work with those businesses to keep them open. Well, Lucky Burger closed shortly thereafter. Selma and The Harp hung in there for as long as they could.

Here is the 2011 Houston Chronicle article announcing Braun Enterprises' purchase:


A Braun Enterprises partnership has purchased a collection of buildings on a prime parcel in the Montrose area.

The deal included three retail buildings and an office building totaling 12,630 square feet at 1601–1625 Richmond and 1643 Richmond. The retail buildings are fully leased to Lucky Burger, Orange Bar, Maria Selma's Mexican Restaurant and The Harp Irish Pub. The leases all expire in 2014. The buildings sit on 1.4 acres at Richmond and Mandell.




Then another promising The Harp would be here for a long while in 2014...



Things got a little crazy for The Harp‘s Declan Plunkett this week when reports about the closing of Lucky Burger led to speculation that property owner Braun Enterprises was finally ready to redevelop the more than 12,000 square feet parcel it purchased in 2011. That property includes The Harp and Maria Selma Restaurant, as well as Lucky Burger.

“I was getting all these emails and texts,” Plunkett said, “I didn’t know what was up.”

After the Harp’s owners figured it out, this went up on The Harp’s Facebook page Wednesday afternoon.

Plunkett spoke with the Chronicle Thursday afternoon, looking to reassure longtime patrons that the 15-year-old Irish pub is — gleefully — still going strong.

“We’ll be here for at least the next five years,” he said, adding that he and the owners of Maria Selma recently had renewed their leases.




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From Swamplot on The Harp in December:

A flyer put out by Braun Enterprises indicates that the Harp Irish Pub’s spot at 1625 Richmond Ave is available for lease. A partnership controlled by Braun bought the decked-out bar along with its 3 eastern neighbors (at that time Orange Bar, Maria Selma Mexican Restaurant, and Lucky Burger) in 2011.




And from Houston Chronicle in December:


One of the Montrose area's most popular watering holes will be closing its doors soon.

The Harp, an Irish pub known for its decent pours and homey atmosphere at 1625 Richmond Avenue near the corner of Mandell, will officially close after the end of February.

The bar is located along a strip that already includes Revelry on Richmond and the Oui Banh Mi sandwich shop, now located in the old Lucky Burger spot.


"This is all good, I am just planning to retire and live down in Mexico," said Plunkett, who splits his time between Houston and Playa del Carmen. "It's bittersweet though for the employees."

Braun Enterprises has begun to market the property for lease and has also listed the former Texas Shrimp Shack location (1617 Richmond) just next door, where older Houstonians might remember was once the home of alternative rock club Instant Karma. According to Wolf, Braun is also working on an exterior facelift at that location.

Braun has owned the 1.4 acres of land that The Harp and those other watering holes occupy since 2014.


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The Harp closes tonight at 1625 Richmond.

From Free Press Houston:

For almost 20 years, The Harp (1625 Richmond) has drawn in customers with the warm, emerald glow of its neon sign. And for 15 years before the doors were first thrown open, Declan Plunkett was already a fixture of the Montrose bar scene.

Plunkett’s first step was finding the right spot for his bar. “Location is the most important thing in any bar/restaurant business,” he says. “I found this place by chance. It was a massage training school — it wasn’t one of those ‘funny’ massage places!”

The recently vacated building was gutted, with Plunkett’s wife and her mother doing a lot of the homey, Celtic-flavored decorating themselves. As for the name: “The harp is the national music emblem of Ireland,” notes Plunkett. “And you can’t franchise (it), everybody can use it.”

The intervening 19 years have flown by for loyal regulars, but Plunkett notes that The Harp’s popularity peaked in its first seven years. “Rent was cheaper, there wasn’t a bar on every corner,” he recalls. “We were, like, the only place on Richmond between Montrose and Shepherd.”

Montrose has undergone big changes since Plunkett’s arrival through its continued facelifts; in the years since he’s owned The Harp, he’s watched as both the landscape and the demographics of the neighborhood have been transformed. “Obviously the area has gentrified a lot,” he remarks. “They’re tearing down the history of Montrose, which I hate to see. But I wouldn’t live anywhere else. I love it, I love the eclectic people.”

Plunkett cites health as the chief reason now is the right time for him to bow out of the neighborhood he loves. He’s had five surgeries and cancer issues, he says, and his kids have been urging him to just go and enjoy himself, even if that meant selling his storied bar.



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The Harp in Houston, 1625 Richmond Ave is open again after closing last year. It opened St. Patty's Day. Its new name is Penny Whistle.


From Facebook:

We all miss The Harp but what the neighborhood misses most is a damn good pub run by neighborhood folk. Once again, you've got one.
Pennywhistle Pub is now open at 1625 Richmond with a full draught selection, a much larger selection of cocktails and wine, a shiny new staff, FULLY renovated bathrooms and deck and all the fun stuff: darts, foosball, juke box, board games, Mario Kart and just enough TVs.




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From Houston Business Journal today:


Penny Whistle, an Irish-themed pub, has opened in the space formerly held by Montrose mainstay The Harp.

Ted Baker, owner of sports bar Revelry next door, bought the business in early 2018 after The Harp’s owner, Declan Plunkett, retired and closed his longtime pub. The Harp finally closed in November 2018 with an announcement of more changes on the way.

...Baker and Plunkett were longtime acquaintances by the time Plunkett and the landlord, Houston-based Braun Enterprises, began the search for someone to take over the space. Rachel Schlothauer, now general manager of Penny Whistle, was a regular patron of The Harp. Baker ended up winning his bid for the bar due to his relationship with Plunkett and his promise he would keep renovations to a minimum and leave the bar as an Irish pub. 

“We saw an opportunity to find something the area was lacking,” Schlothauer said, noting that the new team "didn’t want to erase anything that Declan had done.”

This attitude even went into the name — a penny whistle is another type of Irish instrument. 

...As part of keeping with The Harp legacy, Penny Whistle is building a wall of Harp party photos, including photos of when Plunkett first began bartending after he immigrated to the United States from Ireland. 

More: https://www.bizjournals.com/houston/news/2019/03/21/new-irish-themed-pub-opens-in-former-home-of-the.html

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