|Photos by Craig Hlavaty|
Rocks Off got word late Friday afternoon that McGowen Street's long-standing bastion of cool, Leon's Lounge, would be closing over the weekend. Not for good, but at least for a few months while new ownership overhauls and renovates the establishment, long a barfly favorite and seemingly last hope of the Midtown drinking scene.
Over a sixty-year history, Leon's Lounge has always been a Houston constant. From it's inception in 1953, the haunt has been a favorite of seasoned drinkers of all walks of life. Its rich history places it in league with La Carafe, the West Alabama Ice House and Kay's Lounge as some of the city's longest-running watering holes. Word is that Scarlett Yarborough, owner and daughter of the bar's namesake and original owner Leon Yarborough, is currently negotiating a deal with Under The Volcano helmer Pete Mitchell.
Rocks Off made our way to the bar Saturday night to visit one last time before it changes hands. The staff assured us that none of Leon's charm would be going anywhere, and that Yarborough has made it clear to everyone involved that no major changes will be made. The location is known for its iconic long front bar, the piano room in the back, and the game room off to the side. Little Joe Washington used to have a residency at the piano on most Tuesday nights before he moved on to "Derby Tuesdays" at Boondocks.
While we were there, the Tontons played in that backroom to a packed crowd. The bar was a favorite hangout for the band, and lead singer Asli Omar was seen fluttering around being her bubbly self throughout the night. She is going back to school in New York City this week, leaving the future of the band open at the moment. We did see the band minus Omar jamming before their set with Love Field's Ryan Grimes, so there could be a possibility of something coagulating down the line.