“What’s different about it,” says Terry Fuller-Waymire, who with his husband, Jamie, runs Pride Galveston, “is that it’s three nightclubs in one.” He’s referring to Galveston’s newest hot spot, The Texas Bar Group, which occupies a large building near The Strand, across from the Galveston Railroad Museum. Inside the building is Mob Bar—a 1920s speakeasy featuring a Prohibition cocktail menu, Sinatra music and smooth jazz, and gangster movies playing on the flat screen—as well as the sprawling Maze nightclub.
“Maze is more of a dance club,’ says Fuller-Waymire, who performs a drag show there. There are five rooms in Maze: the Main Room features an oval-shaped bar with a dance floor, disco ball, laser lights, and a DJ. The Electricity Room has another dance floor, strobe lights, and a wall of video screens. Two VIP rooms have plush leather couch sections for bottle service, and there’s a trippy Alien Room. Outside, in the Island sunshine, is a third concept: Mango’s Beach Club.
“I like variety,” says Fuller-Waymire. “So I love being able to just go from bar to bar. I’m a beach person, so I love Mango’s. But when the summer heat gets too hot, it’s nice to pop into a dark indoor bar.”
Mango’s does have umbrellas and an awning to provide a little shade, as well as day beds, bottle service, tropical drinks, Miami music, drag brunches, and cornhole and basketball games. It’s also dog friendly, with free bowls of water and doggie treats for your four-legged kids.
This triple-threat concept is the brainchild of Texas Bar Group CEO Brian “BO$$” Cohen, a veteran of nightclubs and venues across the U.S. He opened his first Mob Bar in Los Angeles in a building with secret basement tunnels and bullet holes in the walls. Unfortunately, he opened it in February 2020 and had to close the following month for a prolonged COVID lockdown. This year, he decided to open Mob Bars in other cities, starting with Cedar Falls, Iowa, and now Galveston.
“I never thought the Mob Bar would work in Iowa or Texas,” Cohen says. “But they are business-friendly states, and I found several properties that I decided would work.”
And Galveston turned out to be a perfect fit. Mob, Maze, and Mango’s reside in a 9,000-square-foot building known for its former brothel and a notorious murder.
“During my research, I found out that Galveston has a long history with the mob,” Cohen says. Indeed, the Island was home to Rosario “Rose” and Sam Maceo—who for three decades ran speakeasies, gambling dens, and bootlegging operations. They owned The Balinese Room, which hosted acts like Frank Sinatra in the front of the house and gambling in the back. Located on a pier at 21st Street, the historic structure was lost to Hurricane Ike in 2008.
“I’ve always been a fan of the 1920s era and gangster movies,” Cohen says, “so I just thought the Mob Bar would be a cool concept. And it’s a perfect fit for Galveston, with its history.” The bar even features two cocktails named for the infamous Maceo brothers.
Besides being in the hospitality business for two decades, Cohen also runs a baseball memorabilia company that deals with buyers and sellers of sports cards.
“I’ve been dealing in sports cards since I was ten,” says Cohen. “I pick maybe 20 players a year that I follow and know will be on the rise. So I buy their cards early, at maybe $7 a piece, and sell them at $75. If you buy 100 or more, it’s a great investment if you know what you are doing. But everything I do—hospitality and sports—isn’t just for the money. I am very passionate about everything I do.”
While Cohen plans to open more Mob Bars throughout the country, Galveston seems to be a very apt fit. He has seen good-sized crowds following his June opening, and he expects it to be even busier as the cruise ships return to the island. He plans to bring in big-name bands, DJs, burlesque shows, and he’s already booking a lot of local and Texas acts.
“We have some great LGBTQ performers here,” Cohen says—including drag queens like Fuller-Waymire. “We are friendly to everyone—all races and orientations. We invite everyone to come out and enjoy the bars. When I’m here, I’m always on the floor shaking hands and pouring shots. So come on by!”
For more information on Mob, Maze, and Mangos, visit texasbargroup.com.
This article appears in the July 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.