Bennigan's. When I wasn't scarfing up their food and having drinks there as well, I was soaking up the atmosphere.
There were two of the then 20 locations in Houston that regularly got me to part with my money. One of them was located on Loop 610 by the Astrodome and the other was by my old apartment on Bissonnet. It was across the street from the Pappas Barbecue location I was on a first name basis with most of the staff who worked there during the 90's.
That's another post. This one's about my love affair with Bennigan's.
The Bennigan's on Loop 610 got the nickname of 'Black Bennigan's' by me and my friends at the time for an obvious reason. It was a short drive from Third Ward, South Park and the nearby condo and apartment complex filled neighborhood chock full of Buppies and young professionals. If you said you wanted to eat at Bennigan's and the answer to the 'which one?' question came back "Black Bennigan's", you knew immediately which direction to point the car and drive.
That particular Bennigan's was more fun at times than paying $5 cover to go to any club and was always packed. There were times when the restaurant would be closed at 2 AM and people would still be hanging out in the parking lot until 3 AM.
That particular location liked to put Rockets and later Comets games on their televisions, and when the Rockets won their 1994 NBA title I was sitting there cheering with everyone else when it happened.
So when I moved back to Houston, I was shocked to learn that all 20 Houston Bennigan's locations closed when the chain went through bankruptcy in 2008. I still get depressed when I pass by the old Loop 610 location that had been bought and remodeled into a Mexican food chain restaurant.
Was estatic to learn that Bennigan's is reentering the Houston market and the new franchisee is planning to open up to 10 restaurants around the Houston area. That's half of the total that were around prior to the 2008 bankruptcy, but it's better than not having any here at all .
And yes, for those of you who loved the Monte Cristo sandwich, it's still on the menu.