Bars in Houston seem to come and go, but a new hot spot in Montrose is already proving it has major staying power. A familiar gayborhood location is now home to Buddy’s, a one-of-a-kind bar that features karaoke, pool, DJs, and more, according to out owner Christopher Barry.
Just up the street from the classic Montrose bar haunts, Buddy’s is a great first stop to meet friends and get your night started, according to Barry. “I did the whole demolition and redesign with my own hands. We completely redesigned the actual bar. We pushed it to the patio wall to serve inside and outside patrons at the same time, and make flow a lot more efficient.”
Barry definitely knows a thing or two about the nightlife industry. “I bartended at Ripcord, and managed Guava Lamp,” he notes. A devotion to the LGBTQ community motivated the entrepreneur to take on the challenge of creating a space for camaraderie, good times, and inclusion. “I saw all the bars closing in Houston, and I wondered if they were closing because of a cultural shift or because of the industry,” he reflects. “[After working in a few of the bars,] I realized it was a combination of both. Then I realized I could use my experience to be a vehicle for positive change for our community, and help grow the nightlife scene.”
Barry, a native of Beaumont, is easily recognizable with his blondish-red beard and handsome smile. It’s no wonder he has been voted OutSmart magazine’s Favorite Male Bartender every year that he’s worked behind a bar. Having previously worked in orthopedics and selling implants for spinal surgeries, Barry has generously shared his time and resources to support dozens of LGBTQ organizations in Houston. “I’ve worked with both community and professional [organizations]. I worked with the leather groups while I was at Ripcord, and sporting events while I was at Ripcord and Guava Lamp,” he recalls, “I’ve worked with Lesbians of Color, Pride Houston, and more.”
Those that know Barry well aren’t surprised by his work ethic and his giving heart. At the age of 21, after returning home from a church mission trip in Mexico, the avid skateboarder learned that skateboarding on public property had been outlawed in Beaumont. He then teamed up with the Beaumont Police Activities League to design an all-steel skate park to provide a safe, legal, community-based haven for his community.
A source of pride for Barry is the quality of his new Montrose establishment—everything from the staff he employs to the ambience of the space. “Our average years of experience for our staff is about 10 years. The president of the U.S. Bartenders Guild works here,” Barry notes. The 20-foot-high ceilings allow for larger speakers and a fuller sound that patrons can chat over without needing to shout. “The energy at the bar gets higher as the night goes on. In other words, the lighting and the sound evolve as the night does.”
It wouldn’t be a gay bar if there weren’t events to attract a crowd, and in a few months Buddy’s guests can look forward to Latin Night on Thursdays. “Sunday night is hip-hop night, Sunday Funday will feature upbeat throwback music, and there is a lot of house music on Friday and Saturday nights!”
Events throughout the week will include karaoke on Wednesday nights with Wendy Taylor, who was a two-time Top 20 Finalist on American Idol.
While the grand opening isn’t until March, guests are welcome at the bar Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Friday through Sunday from noon to 2 a.m. Barry hopes to welcome everyone who stops by to enjoy a drink and some good company.
When asked how he chose the name of his new bar, Barry explains with obvious pride: “It’s called Buddy’s because it’s a place where ‘everybuddy’ is welcome!”
For more information about Buddy’s, visit facebook.com/buddyshouston.