Echo Lounge Weathers Lonely Downtown Nights

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If you've ever found yourself stuck in the downtown area on a Friday night, you're bound to notice a few things.

First, there's an inordinate amount of horse-drawn carriages riding back and forth across McKinney Street. Does anyone know why this is necessary?

But second, and more importantly, the area is a virtual black hole for late-night entertainment.

Save for the seasonal crowds for the Astros or Rockets (who've recently struggled with declining attendances of their own), downtown shuts down about 7 p.m. and reopens for business in time for early-morning rush-hour traffic around dawn.

Sure, the odd bar or venue has managed to stay alive, but for the most part, it's pretty well acknowledged around town that downtown is for work, not for play. For a city as massive as Houston, it's actually pretty eerie.

It's in this little bubble that Amber Elizondo finds herself.

For the past year, Elizondo, general manager of Echo Lounge (formerly Jet Lounge) has taken the task of pushing the local-music market in an area that has traditionally been unreceptive to the regional music scene.

"Originally, Jet Lounge was established as a DJ lounge next to the Engine Room, which was doing pop shows and touring bands," Elizondo tells Rocks Off.

"Jet was always kind of an afterparty spot. But after the Engine Room shut down, we lost that purpose. So there needed to be some kind of change in our makeup."

With Elizondo at the helm, the changes came quickly.

First, there came the issue of the name, which Elizondo readily admits was not a serious problem as a whole. But nevertheless, a business overhaul means just that, so out went the famous "Jet" in Jet Lounge.

"It's been there for eight years now," says Elizondo, "and we wanted to revamp the whole thing. Give it a new brand. So it's Echo Lounge, not the place people remember it being five years ago."

The new name was a welcome change, but the real work for Elizondo came when figuring how to approach the Downtown area -- a market she fondly refers to as completely "dead" -- with local artists and bands.


Location Info

Hawthorn - CLOSED

3200 Kirby Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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7 comments
Yessir
Yessir

why doesn't Echo have web site? and Jet does? step #1 in not being dead is putting up a freaking web site.

Butterglue
Butterglue

They still have a tiny, awkward stage and the sound system is still setup for DJ, single mic performances. Bands usually seem to struggle to get decent sound here. Parking is an issue in that area, too. I'm not paying to park in a dirty, bum filled, poorly lit lot. Other than the name, I haven't seen much of a change.

Yessir
Yessir

i've been there a few times and never had a hard time parking. parking is free after 6 pm, so...

The Mahas
The Mahas

"Currently, there are only a handful of prominent live entertainment venues downtown, none of which cater to the local music scene to any significant degree."

Ever heard of Notsuoh/Dean's?

This whole story is laughable.

Yessir
Yessir

and the capitol. and the peacock lounge.

Yessir2
Yessir2

okay, that's about a handful. she's focusing on it being a 'meeting place' for live music. nobody's killing themselves trying to get to Notsuoh or Deans on a friday night.

Duce630
Duce630

I'm confused, they seem to still use the Jet Lounge name half the time anyways. 

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