Austin’s award-winning bar Nickel City will open a third Texas location in Houston in 2023
from Austin City of Nickel opens its third Texas location in Houston early next year — and it comes with a rum-focused patio bar and the first in-house kitchen for any outpost.
The award-winning neighborhood bar, known for its abundance of spirits and good vibes, will take up residence at 2910 McKinney St, Suite 500, joining several other new businesses in the former Abrasives & Allied Products building. Once renovated, the East Downtown building will feature a mix of office and retail space.
Austin Cultural Map reports that the bar, which is expected to open in early 2023, will take up 3,200 square feet of warehouse space and will be designed by Primozich with Houston-based interior design team Lizzy Bufton and Stephanie Russel from Taft Studio. the project.
Tober, a native of Buffalo, New York, also told Culturemap that he plans to bring Nickel City’s “Rust Belt Chic” aesthetic to Houston, while adapting the concept of a “bar inside a bar” from the Fort Worth outpost. A unique Houston highlight, however, is the Terrace Bar — capitalizing on Houston’s love of al fresco drinking and dining — with a particular focus on rum.
Tober said that with Houston being a “great rum city,” known as one of the highest rum-consuming cities in the country, it made sense to dive into the spirit, but in a lighter way.
Although a tiki bar theme intrigues Tober, who has a fondness for Florida beach bars, “it’s a lot of work,” Tober tells Eater Houston. Instead, it will incorporate some aspects of its favorite parts of Key West, featuring a rum-focused patio with enticing drinks and a “tropical” vacation vibe. The patio, itself, will also be a new focus for the Nickel City team, says Tober, who, with help from Primozich, recently revamped Nickel City’s other patios with new furniture.
And for curious minds, Nickel City’s boozy coffee drinks, including its best-selling Iced Irish Coffee, will always be on the menu. “It will never come off the menu,” Tober says.
Nickel City’s signature Del Rey Cafe food truck will also get a major overhaul, with a move inside – creating an indoor kitchen, a first for one of Nickel City’s outposts. Customers can order at the entrance or at the bar.
The search for Nickel City’s ideal location in Houston began about a year ago, Tober says, with him and his team visiting local neighborhoods including Montrose and the Heights. Houston’s East Side, however, screamed Nickel City, Tober says — especially with its old brick buildings encapsulating the bar’s aesthetic and with so many local bartenders calling it home.
And Tober feels like he’s in good company. He notes that Nickel City will be close to restaurants like Nancy Hustle and only 400 yards from the football stadium. He’ll also be closer to longtime friends Justin Yu and Bobby Heugel, who are set to open a new restaurant in Galveston later this year.
“We are really happy to be in this city. I consider it one of the best places to eat and drink in the United States, and certainly in the world, if not the best,” says Tober.
“I’ve always looked at Houston in amazement just to see how amazing the community is there,” he said. “Houston is long and storied, and we hope it continues.”
Nickel City is the brainchild of Tober, Primozich and brothers Brandon and Zane Hunt, who together own a pizzeria Via 313 in Austin. The four opened the first Nickel City 2017 Austin location to rave reviewsthen an outpost of Fort Worth in the middle of the pandemic in 2020.
Update, May 24, 2:13 p.m.: This story has been updated to include comments from Travis Tober.