Washington Avenue Sports Bar Sawyer Park Closes Its Doors After Four Years

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Almost from the beginning, Washington Avenue sports bar Sawyer Park was embattled.

There were the allegations of racial profiling at the door, a shooting nearby in 2011, the malleable dress codes, its "doucheoisie" clientele, a partial blinding of an employee, and the people who still missed its former life as the gluttonous Pig Stand.

On Tuesday night, everyone finally got the message that it was closed after four years of business, with a sign out front thanking patrons for their years of business. There was also a storage pod out front. An outgoing message on the club's answering machine thanked customers for the memories.

The bar's closure is just another nail in the coffin for this era of Washington Avenue. Closures and changes to bars have been rampant up and down the street.

REWIND:

What Has Happened to Washington Avenue?

The avenue was the subject of two Houston Press cover stories, "Wild on Washington" and "Getting Past the Bouncer," the latter investigating the claims of minorities that various high-falootin' bars around the city -- and many off Washington -- were discriminating against minorities at the door. "Bouncer" painted a pretty bleak picture of bar-and-patron relations.

The bar on the corner of Sawyer and Washington, just a block away from Beaver's, had a beautiful view of downtown -- that is, if you were lucky enough to pass inspection at the front door.

Sawyer's events manager at the time we were writing "Bouncer" contended that the bar was just looking out for their customers, specifically the female ones.

"We had females in the bar who felt uncomfortable about men who were dressed a certain way," she said. "We don't want people to look like they just came from the gym or just got done running at Memorial Park. We are basically looking for upscale casual wear -- no cutoff jean shorts, sleeveless shirts or tank tops. We do allow sandals and [hemmed] shorts, though."

That was enough to drive away many drinkers, but of course not all. It was still a hot spot, but the crowds looked sparser on some nights. Maybe it had lost its flavor, or the regulars moved on to and back to Midtown and Upper Kirby for their freaky weekends.

Most greeted the closing with glee last night on social media, and were excited about the future of that prime piece of real estate. The build-up around it has been pretty steady, with condos and mixed-use spaces popping up.

I drove by myself over a week ago to find it closed, but assumed that it was now closed on Monday nights since football season was over. It certainly did not look as if it was about to close for good.

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Photo by Brandon Caldwell
The crowd this past weekend at Sawyer Park for NBA All-Star Weekend.
Sports carried Sawyer Park, whether they were on the club's massive screens or being played in some form in the parking lot. There were dodgeball games and Tuesday night bingo sessions throughout the bar's history.

Their Twitter page has been inactive since late 2010, and their Facebook page shows that they were celebrating Fat Tuesday just last week.

There were a host of "turnt up" party pics from this past week's NBA All-Star Weekend festivities on Instagram and Twitter, so at least the ol' salty girl went out with a bang.

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79 comments
jigmonster
jigmonster

The phrase "upscale casual wear" gave me a real-life LOL moment.  You know any brain holding vocabulary like that doesn't have any room left for taste. I'm interested to see where the douche shepherd is going to lead his flock next.

mollyonthefloormusic
mollyonthefloormusic

easily the most douche bag bar I've ever been victimized into entering. 

spaceolympian196
spaceolympian196

I've never had a problem there lol. :P I did actually enjoy the bar just because it was a nice chill spot to watch finals, playoffs, etc. and had a great crowd. I'm sure some investor will come in and put the location to good use. Oh, and if you think this was hipster central, try going to Liberty station lol.

daniel.glover
daniel.glover

I went one time to watch my (out of town) NFL team in prime time sporting my jersey on a Thursday night. Bouncer let me in but said as soon as the game was over I had to take off the jersey.  As If I brought a wardrobe change to a bar.   Didn't sound like a sports bar to me, so I never went back.  

Notahipster
Notahipster

This was a great place to grab a late afternoon drink upstairs when the weather was great.  It sucked they were so outwardly racist.  They did $189,000 is alcohol sales in Dec 2011 and $100,000 in Dec. 2012.  That tells you how much it takes to keep a place open.    I hope an experienced bar owner takes the spot.  The place has too many positives to remain empty. 

Roland Gonzalez
Roland Gonzalez

^ i dont think its nothing against any type of person/race. its the environment at these places that make it uncomfortable for certain people. DOUCHES come in different colors/shapes, not just 1 type. specially if the people that are there are only judging/ criticizing / and tyring to make others feel less. that the douche part of these places. ...... and to top it off, the people that run the these places dont seem to mind/care and allow their staff to Discriminate/Mistreat patrons that only want to go and have a good time

Kari Freels
Kari Freels

What do you people have against normal white dudes. Just because they are white and like to go to a bar they are automatically a "douche"-- so weird! I don't hear them hating on hipsters so why all the hate??

GunsandTacos
GunsandTacos

Hope they don't tear down the actual building. It's really nice.

Joshua Justice
Joshua Justice

I liked the "Sam Houston did not come here to rent" sign considering a large portion of their douchetele lived in the faux lofts and "luxury" apartments littering washington and midtown. That's not to mention the shear idiocy of that blanket statement given the housing bubble's epic burst 5 years ago. So stupid, so fitting...

breenie
breenie

Sorry but a club aimed at the noveau riche where this new money tells the other new money that theirs isn't good enough.lol. the irony.

mklein1249
mklein1249

haha...anyone saying the place sucked or in some way implying that these guys got what they deserved...gloating because they "went out of business" are f-ing morons.  The place didn't suck...I didn't like it...but their sales numbers don't lie.  Second, these guys don't "go out of business"...they ride a horse until it can't run anymore...then they shoot it.  They made at least 10x what they invested into the place, and they shut it down as soon as the numbers began to steadily decline...why you ask?!?  Probably because they are already scouting for the next location to open the next bar/club that you guys will go visit and then complain that they wouldn't let you in.  Its called business...

jennyknick
jennyknick

Sorry but once you let in fools that don't know how to act, they tell their friends and BAM! Ghetto and no one wants to go.. It's honest whether you like it or not.

H_e_x
H_e_x

Great news. The sooner these assholes leave, the better.

tjsimmons02
tjsimmons02

I hate to see anything negative happen to anyones business, but this place would come up with the most outrageous reasons to not let some of my friends (all minority) in. Im talking crap like, no flashy or big jewelry, no white shoes, no plain t-shirts, no polo boots etc. We would sometimes just sit back and look at the folks they let in once we were denied entry. It never failed, they would always let someone in wearing the exact same thing one of us was denied entry for.

sergearmijo
sergearmijo

i never had issues the times i went there to watch football with my buddies...next time try dressing like a normal person and not like Lil Wayne or SPM and maybe you won't be hassled!

Jeff Hunter
Jeff Hunter

The mural on the back of the building has a giant picture of Sam Houston and says that he "did not come here to rent"...

kejo66
kejo66

that place blew:

1. Valet / Strict dress code for a sports bar is dumb

2. They didn't even have any college games that weren't available on regular cable. So it really wasn't a true sports bar unless you pulled for Texas or Texas AM.

3. Jackhole central: clientele, bartenders, cocktail waitresses.

hope for a better tomorrow.

nlbroussard
nlbroussard

I loved Sawyer Park. But nothing ever lasts for ever anyways. I can always go see my favorite bartenders at St gen or the red door. Tell my Johnny I love him!!

Omar9
Omar9

these guys rake in the cash for a while and shut it down when the ride is over.  See any of the places they've opened and owned before...the drake (they sold it), the original red door (now on version 2.0), and now sawyer park.  they still have st g's, the new red door and wonderbar.   wish they picked things that stuck around, but hey, seems to work for them....

Brian Dahl
Brian Dahl

I'm confused...the doormen only had asses that were gay?

Abraham Zermeno
Abraham Zermeno

I'm soo happy to hear this, douche bag white guy central right there

NewRider Ivan
NewRider Ivan

Never understood the appeal of the place, their wings were good though. They coulda done something better with the upstairs patio. Oh well, oh noes....where are the yuppies gonna go now?

jefe
jefe

Tisk tisk, Craig. There is no apostrophe in the possessive "its."  -Love, your 9th grade grammar instructor.

EnomaOtenki
EnomaOtenki

I'm glad it closed down. Good riddance to all those places on Washington. I'm sick of getting either turned away because I am black. I am also pretty fed up with being confused for the goddamn bouncer. Fuck this version of Washington.

boyo
boyo

None of the new places on Washington will last.  There was once nice dive bars, artist studios, decent music venues, and of course, the good people who actually lived in that area before "young professional joe" found it hip.  All that being said, no place will last because none of the bars have any taste.  They are all mimics of each others crappy designs, and they moved into to an area that was built up by others.  "Bar" owners waste all of their credit and construct a shitty structure where one that had integrity once stood.  Developer or want-to-be buisness owners need to learn their neighborhoods, we will see all of these places go the way of the buffalo and they will leave in their wake crappy, cheap buildings that can house the roaches that no longer have to hide in the walls.   

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

And they closed the pig stand for this?

Bru Sant Torrente-Tejano
Bru Sant Torrente-Tejano

Yeah, that place was tots racist. I had on a tie, button up shirt, slacks, and new sneakers. However, it was 30 degrees outside and I had a hooded sweater over this. They asked me to take off the sweater when I was inside. Then, I was repeatedly reminded to take off my sweater inside the building and followed. Washington street is full of doucheness but this place won the Affliction shirt and muscle milk diet prize.

Myron L Mack
Myron L Mack

Good Riddens!!! This place was my worst experience on Washington Avenue. Sawyer Park alone made me stop going to the area period!!!!

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

@spaceolympian196 Two cool things about Liberty Station is that they're not racist and they don't have any dress code. Also, great drinks.

H_e_x
H_e_x

@jennyknick The "honesty" card. I'm not an asshole, I'm just honest. Dogwhistle speech, nah, just being honest.

tjsimmons02
tjsimmons02

@sergearmijo Anyone dressing like that would probably not be old enough to enter. I for one dont wear baggy clothes or dress like Lil Wayne or SPM (his shit use to jam), but was denied entry a few times.

letjknow
letjknow

@nlbroussard  The bartenders at St. Genevieve SUCK! The take their sweet time chatting with coworkers/waitresses/manager, no sense of urgency when it is obviously busy, plus they only have 1 bartender for the whole place during happy hour, there is another guy who is there too behind the bar but he just walks around not making anything, so it take forever to get a drink! Maybe now there will be more bartenders at that place since SP is closed!

Anse
Anse

@boyo It seems there is a certain category of nightclub/bar owner who has this rather shallow understanding of what works and what doesn't work. Sometimes I wonder if they really are trying to start businesses that will last more than three or four years, or if they know straight away that they're gonna have to cash out quick and are cool with being the flavor of the month. I imagine these folks will drift off to another part of town eventually. I really don't think Washington Ave is going to end up like Richmond; maybe more like Midtown, where some of the douchey element has left, and where it seems a slow and gradual evolution is bringing businesses that might actually appeal to the kind of folks who live there. 

sergearmijo
sergearmijo

@Bru Sant Torrente-Tejano next take of the damn hoodie...too eazy!!

H_e_x
H_e_x

@Kylejack @mklein1249 Don't you know that something can't be good unless it makes a lot of money? That's why Justin Bieber is a better artist than Vincent van Gogh and why High School Musical is better than Amarcord.

mklein1249
mklein1249

As someone who has spent many years in the industry...you are 100% right.  Once the women don't like the element in the bar, they stop coming...once they stop coming, goodbye bar.

sergearmijo
sergearmijo

@tjsimmons02 @sergearmijo i never encountered anything like that...it was an ok place with  a great view up until that building obstructed the view across the street.  i was denied entry into Pub Fiction a couple of weeks ago because i had a tee shirt (dress code after 10pm so the bouncer said)...which was a legit reason,  no big deal...so we just went to another bar

Kylejack
Kylejack topcommenter

@mklein1249 Liberty Station doing just fine without a dress code. Anvil doing just fine and does not have a dress code. When people try to have a party and their black friends, invited guests, get flagged at the door, they don't schedule the next party there.

tjsimmons02
tjsimmons02

@sergearmijo Thats usually what we did. Just go somewhere else. It was only when were in a group of 4 or more. When we would seperate and try to get in, most of the time it worked, but we should'nt have to do all that to get inside, especially since we all was about to spend money.

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