Formerly the Mink, the Alley Kat Reinvents Itself as a Suaver Sort of Lounge

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Photos by Matthew Keever
This alley should look familiar to former patrons of The Mink.
"It doesn't smell like sewage anymore!"

Although a sign above the entrance still reads "The Mink," little inside this newly renovated drinkery feels quite the same. The layout is unchanged, but burgundy walls, low lighting and the soft sounds of jazz or blues now set the tone of The Alley Kat Bar and Lounge, the newest watering hole on "The Island" in Midtown.

The Alley Kat feels as though it has outgrown its awkward albeit charming teenage years, giving way to a fresh perspective on a well-liked Midtown nightspot that had deteriorated over time. The Mink used to have an allure all its own, but over the past few years it became seedier and dustier, and the restrooms became more of a risk than a convenience.

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Nonetheless, many cried foul when news broke in September 2011 that The Mink had been sold. The new owners tried to branch out by booking different types of music, but struggled to find a new niche for the bar and announced their abdication in late August 2012.

Luckily, The Alley Kat has serious potential. It feels like the Mink put on a suit and tie, kicked a few bad habits and is again reinventing itself, while maintaining much of the same makeup that everyone loved in the first place.

"There's still some individuality that makes us unique," says new managing partner Kory Hinton. "The light frames when you walk in and the wooden bar are staples of the Mink... There are elements I would like to keep, but there are also [different] elements I'd like to incorporate."

Hinton doesn't want to scare off former regulars of the bar and hopes that keeping a few key elements of its former self will make the transition easier, but she also wants new business and is adding some panache.

It's still a shotgun-style bar, one that could easily be overlooked as passers-by drive down Main, but is now a suaver, fancier version of its former self. The Alley Kat isn't enforcing any sort of dress code, but while it seems to have become a perfectly acceptable place to take your date after dinner, you won't feel out of place wearing jeans and a T-shirt.

That friend who lacked hygiene, whom you put up with because he had charisma and played good tunes? He has cleaned up, and is looking to party again. And yes, his restrooms have been heavily reconditioned: new sinks, new toilets, new floor boards, repainted walls, the works.


Location Info

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Alley Kat Bar & Lounge

3718 Main St., Houston, TX

Category: Music


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4 comments
deemilieu
deemilieu

i used to go to the mink pretty often. i went to alley cat a few months back on a wednesday or thursday night and was surprised a well drink was $7. given it's location near a lot of upscale, new apartments i'd think they would draw a decent crowd, but going on several occasions since i haven't found that to be the case. when they changed ownership a few years back they lost most the regular crowd, mostly because they fired all the staff who knew the regular customers well. the idea of buying a bar that already gets a decent draw, and then getting rid of all the staff who know the regulars, then trying to re-invent it as basically the same thing. i don't know. i never understood the new owner's logic. and you can still walk a few door down the street and get a well drink at the continental club for $5-plus listen to live music for free on most nights. anyway, hope they do well because it's nice to have a laid back place to have a drink on a weekday night.

Danny Noman
Danny Noman

It doesn't smell like sewage anymore? C'mon, that was part of its charm!

julianbajsel
julianbajsel

@Danny Noman Yeah what gives?  Not reeking of sewage is sooooo mainstream these days!

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