Page 1 of 1

OutPost Tavern closed.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2010 8:47 pm
by Qray
The Outpost Tavern, a relocated pilot barracks-turned-astronaut hangout located near the Johnson Space Center, was forcibly shut down Thursday, two weeks ahead of its already planned closure.

Midway into a schedule of farewell parties and having removed much of the space memorabilia that famously lined the bar walls, the tavern's proprietors found themselves suddenly locked out by the owner of the land on which the Outpost sits.

Stephanie Foster, proprietor of the Space City institution known for its cold beer and extensive collection of NASA memorabilia, still had 16 farewell get-togethers and other events planned through the end of the month. Among those who had signed up, according to Foster, are representatives of an aeronautical museum at Purdue University and U.S. Rep. Pete Olson.

Those plans all are on hold now. Bar employees have been calling to ask if they should come to work, and the band lined up for Saturday night has been wanting to know if the gig is still on.

It sure doesn't sound like it.

As a noticeably upset Foster recounted the incident this afternoon, she received an urgent call Thursday morning from her husband, who had driven by and noticed some men outside the bar sometime before 8 a.m. When he stopped to ask what was happening, he found a lawyer and a locksmith changing the locks on the doors.

Foster said she was allowed inside for only a brief time to retrieve her computer.

"They locked me out and won't let me in," she said.

Attorney Richard Melamed, who represents the building's landlord, Walter Wright, said there was a disagreement over when the bar would close. He referred questions to Wright.

Wright said in response that he and his brothers own the business and its contents, as well as the building, and that they intend to move the building and reopen. He said he acted to close it before Foster's farewell plans were completed because he feared "thousands of dollars" worth of memorabilia had already been removed.

"We had no choice," he said. "We're in the process of getting the building repositioned."

He added, "We're trying to preserve the Outpost as hard as we can, from a historical perspective."

Wright said the property has been tied up in court for the two years since his cousins sold their half-interest to investors who had other plans for the Webster location. He said no rent was paid during that time.

Wright said he is trying to have the building, a World War II-era Quonset hut (his description), moved to a location on the existing tract of land, perhaps 100 feet away. He said he hopes to continue to sell food and beer there but "upgrade" to make the place more family-oriented. He did not provide a specific time frame.

Foster said she owns the name and state business license as well as the liquor and health department licenses. She said her mother bought the Outpost from an earlier owner, and that she bought it from her mother. You can check the ownership history by clicking here and typing in: The Outpost Tavern.

Foster said she paid rent before the sale, to the other property owners, as part of a verbal lease agreement. She said no one had come to her asking for rent in the last two years, and she did not know who to send it to.

She also vowed to fight to keep Wright from reopening as the Outpost.

"If he thinks he is going to use the Outpost Tavern name," she said, "absolutely this is going to court."

Foster announced plans to close the Outpost late last year because the land on which it sits had been sold.

"Like many good things in life, sometimes 'we' are not in charge," she explained on the Outpost's Web site at the time.

The Outpost began its tavern life not as an astronaut hangout, but as a bunk for pilots.

"It began life as a World War Two Air Force barracks at the nearby Ellington Air Force Base before being moved to its present location in 1965 to serve as a barbecue shack," the Outpost's Web site explained.

In 2000, the Outpost came close to permanently shutting its doors when its grill – used to cook burgers and freshly cut fries – was deemed unsafe by the fire marshal. At the time, bills were mounting and other utilities breaking down, leaving the storied tavern's future in doubt.

But the bar resumed full service in February 2001, thanks to renovations funded by a community-driven "Save the Outpost" campaign. The campaign raised the funds required for the tavern's makeover, which, including a new grill.

The barn-like building was threatened once more in 2005 after sustaining fire damage due to an electrical system short. But the Outpost reopened a week later, again with help from the local community.

OutPost Tavern Web Site

Re: OutPost Tavern closed.

PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 8:00 am
by Bmat
Well, it looks as though Wright is in the right. It is too bad that there are hard feelings and that the people aren't working together for the business.

Re: OutPost Tavern closed.

PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:20 pm
by fanuilh
How very sad. The owner may be legally right, but what a jerkish way to behave. Couldn't they have come to some sort of compromise? :(

Re: OutPost Tavern closed.

PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:21 am
by Qray
Wright may have the legal right to the building and property it sits on, but he has no right to the name "OutPost Tavern"or any of the astronaut memorabilia.

IMO, he sees dollar signs. The fact that he wants to turn it into something "family friendly" to make more money will eventually doom it to become a museum as all the NASA personnel that went there wanted to go to a BAR. Not an Applebees (no offense to Applebees.)

They'll find some other place to go and whatever name Wright slaps on the OutPost Tavern, it'll become a tourist destination with all this cool memorabilia from astronauts that no longer go there. Truly sad and truly pathetic, but that's just my take.

In an article on the Tavern, Lance over at the BarTab blog for the Houston Chronicle, had this to say about the OutPost...

"It is said that you're not a real astronaut until you have your picture on the wall here. It is also rumored than many an astronaut makes a practice of opening a tab here after they finish training, and then returning to have a final beer (and close the tab) when they return from space. Once you push through these bad boys (canteena doors that are cut-outs of bikini clad women) and into the bar, it's difficult to not get sucked right up into the fairy tale that is outer space, and to realize that the people who go on those missions are humans just like us. And that they also drink beer."

It's a shame that such a place is coming to an end.