Cover Story: In the Gay Nightlife Scene, Charles Armstrong Is the Real Mayor of Montrose

Categories: Cover Story

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Deep in the heart of Montrose, gossip flows as freely as the liquor. Throw club owner Charles Armstrong's name into the mix and you'll get more than an earful, no matter which gay bar you're in.

Everybody knows about the feral cats, for instance. Cats run freely around Montrose like they do in Malta or Israel, thanks in part to Armstrong. He makes his employees feed and water the cats day and night. Many think he cares more about his feral cats than he does his own staff.

Armstrong, the subject of this week's cover story, is the owner of four of the most popular gay bars in Houston: JR's Bar & Grill, Montrose Mining Company, South Beach, and Meteor. Nobody can beat Armstrong when it comes to volume of liquor sold to the gay community. No one has for a quarter of a century.

That type of success doesn't come without a good dose of resentment, some of which spawns the countless rumors about Armstrong. Eighty percent of what you hear about Armstrong, I'm told, is pure fiction. "It's just queens talking," I heard over and over again.

But there's no denying that Armstrong hasn't gotten to the top by being nice. His policies have always been tough, and he demands the utmost loyalty from his employees.

So when glamorous new F Bar opened up in March and drew away many of Armstrong's employees and customers, things got ugly. F Bar is owned by Armstrong's nemesis Irwin Palchick -- a businessman with a not-so-clean past. For the first time, Armstrong's home at the top is under threat.

It's a story few wanted to touch. In the words of a bar owner: "You do realize you're starting a war, right?"

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I have been going to his bars, especially the Mining Co, since they opened so many years ago. I have meet so many new friends, partied, drank, danced, and hooked up with a few tricks, all with the constant beat of the best music ever to hit Houston. I have never meet Armstrong but I would never trash a man that has, and still does, offer single men, groups, and couples a place to be with other Gay men and be themselves. You can never replace the comradery of the MC, for example, with sitting at home alone typing on a computer. You call him the Mayor of Montrose, I call him the Matchmaker, Music Master, and the 'Auntie Mame' of Montrose!


Armstrong is crazy. He yells at people who parks close to the cats in fear that they might run over one of his precious strays. Maybe he should try feeding them elsewhere besides the parking lot of his bars. Drunk gays and hungry pussies don't mix.


 Montrose is not just gay folks, and gay folks do not Montrose make. If you'd been attentive to the gossip, you'd have realized that Chris Hutto is The Mayor of Montrose. He owns no bars (yet), but he has shown more love and support for this denizens of this odd little pocket of Houston (gay, straight, bi, tri, whatever) than anyone else I know. Do your research. 

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