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Balancing Business and Pleasure

Jeff Harmon and Anthony Villarreal are the busy couple behind ReBar Houston.

Jeff Harmon (l) and Anthony Villarreal

On any given night at ReBar Houston, the drinks are slinging, the drag queens are singing, and the pulse of the music is ringing through the air. Houston’s latest hot spot is garnering attention as the place to be, and it’s all happening because of the work of owner Jeff Harmon.

Harmon has been the man behind the scenes for some of southeast Texas’ best-known nightclubs. He has owned Halo in College Station since 2003, and for years he was the force behind the rebirth of Rich’s in Midtown. Most recently, he opened ReBar at 202 Tuam Street.

“There were a few factors involved in moving from Rich’s to ReBar. For a long time I’ve wanted to be in the gayborhood, but when does a building become available in the area? I had to wait until something happened, and the opportunity eventually came about,” Harmon says. “I wanted to have a nightclub that could be open multiple days a week and have multiple types of things. We do drag here. We have a beautiful patio. On the weekends, people come to dance. There was a combination of reasons that it made sense to bring this to the gayborhood rather than remain in Midtown with a giant building.”

The business has been a hot spot for months now, with live singing competitions, drag shows and contests, and appearances by some of the most sought-after DJs.

The person behind Harmon’s success is his partner of nearly seven years, Anthony Villarreal, who helps Harmon with the club’s day-to-day management. Although Harmon runs the show, if he is pulled away from the club to tend to other matters, Villarreal steps in to make sure operations are flowing smoothly and at the level of Harmon’s expectations. Whereas Harmon likes to stay behind the scenes when working, Villarreal is more of a social butterfly who jumps in the middle of the action and socializes with patrons. Harmon is the yin to Villarreal’s yang.

Villarreal is successful in his own right as the owner of EZ Reach Cabinet Systems, a business he started fresh out of college. The company focuses on customized cabinet renovations, specializing in building interior pull-out shelves as well as rebuilding and refinishing the exteriors.

With such an entrepreneurial spirit between the two, it was only a matter of time before they teamed up to create another business. They are celebrating their second year as co-owners of Revelry, an annual three-day event on Easter weekend with five separate parties featuring guest DJs.

“For Revelry, we fly in talent from all over the world. There’s a difference [in how DJs] from other countries mix their music, and I want to bring that variety,” Villarreal says. “The energy is there, the intensity is there, the love is there. That’s what Revelry represents—those three things. It’s diversity, bringing everyone together to join in this dance party and have a great time. It’s a passion of both of ours.”

Both men enjoy the circuit scene, but they also have a softer side when they get a chance to step out of the club and relax. One thing they both love to do in their down time is travel.

Harmon says, “We love going to Pensacola and P-Town. P-Town is our favorite place, and we go every year. Our travel schedule starts in the spring, and it’s pretty hectic until October. We’re both very close to our families, so we spend a lot of time with our families for the holidays.”

Villarreal emphasizes their love of family as he describes his extended clan in The Woodlands. “I come from a family of five, and they all have kids. It’s just a big family. Jeff loves to come to The Woodlands, and they love to see him. We do like to take time to visit them whenever we have that chance. They treat him like their brother or their son.”

Since the pair lives together and works from home during daylight hours, they sometimes like to find a way to enjoy some time apart. Villarreal likes to work out at the gym, and Harmon often travels to see a close friend who lives in Louisiana.

“I travel to see her often,” Harmon notes. “I can hang out with her, do absolutely nothing, and still have a great time. It gives Anthony time to do what he wants to do, and I get out of his hair. It gives us a healthy break.”

Distance always makes the heart grow fonder, though, and reminds them of what they like about each other. Villarreal says, “I love how sweet he is. He’s a sweetheart. He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body.”

Harmon is equally generous with his praise; “Anthony has a good heart. I like him because he’s genuine, and he puts me first.”

ReBar is open Thursdays through Mondays (hours vary) and is located at 202 Tuam Street. Revelry takes place April 10–12. For updates, visit facebook.com/revelryhouston/.

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Sam Byrd

Sam Byrd is a freelance contributor to Outsmart who loves to take in all of Houston’s sights, sounds, food and fun. He also loves helping others to discover Houston’s rich culture. Speaking of Houston, he's never heard a Whitney Houston song he didn't like.
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