Feature Photo (above): Google Streets screen shot of the south façade of Henke & Pillot at 809 Congress Avenue.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Houston (Harris County) — When the owners of the swanky lounge/eatery Henke & Pillot opened the club in 2015 guests to this entertainment venue were confined to the ground floor.
There were plans from the beginning to make use of the entire historic building, which meant eventually remodeling the second floor and doing something with the roof. It’s been four years, but it appears that progress is being made.
Henke & Pillot gets its name from a small grocery chain that operated a store in the building in the early part of the 20th century. The building was constructed in 1900 and is a designated contributing historic building within the Main Street Market Square Historic District. The entrance to Henke & Pillot faces the historic Market Square Park.
Henke & Pillot, highlighted in yellow, faces historic Market Square Park. Image: Google Earth.
The building was in rough shape, though, and as Eater Houston reported during the grand opening, co-owner Marcus Lam spent much of 2014 reconstructing the first floor:
“Most of his work can be seen throughout including the stunning bar. Lam extended the bar area, building an eye-catching backdrop of wood and mesh brass with custom-made swivel barstools. Knocking down the back wall, Lam also included a space for a stage and DJ booth. Glistening chandeliers hang high above the lounge portion, where tables are nestled close together. Royal purple sofas and chairs sit along the walls and windows.” — by Jakeisha Wilmore.
Hinke & Pillot has enjoyed success in a crowded field of popular Main Street bars. But a question hung in the air–what about the rest of the building? Well, the proprietors submitted an application to the city in November 2018 to proceed with alterations to the second floor and roof.
Henke & Pillot plans a renovation that will convert the roof into a dance floor/bar. Courtesy: Sun Collective Design Group.
The project description proposes the addition of a new balcony and the conversion of two existing second story windows into doors on the second floor. That would permit access to a balcony that would overlook Market Square Park.
“This phase was submitted in 2013 with approval, which is being resubmitted for reapproval,” the project manager noted. He goes on to say, “This new phase will consist of adding an egress stair on the north side of the building (rear elevation).
“It will also have an interior egress stairwell that runs from the ground floor to the rooftop. With the addition of the stairwell, a portion of the front façade parapet will be extended to accommodate the new egress stairs at the rooftop.”
Changes to the building include an enclosed stairwell that will raise the upper west corner of the façade by one floor. Courtesy: Sun Collective Design Group.
Schematics submitted with the application describe a roof deck with 2,065 square feet of area for guests, enough to accommodate 413 people. It’s described as a dance floor and there are spaces designated for a DJ stage, a bar, restrooms, an elevator, and two sets of staircases–one by the front of the building and the aforementioned rear entrance.
Proposed floor plan for the roof deck. Courtesy: Sun Collective Design Group.
The Hinke & Pillot building has a footprint of 5,000 square feet. At two stories, it has a total area of 8,250 square feet. Once the project is done, the management will be able to make use of well over 10,000 square feet of space.
Sun Collective Design Group is the architect. The Houston firm has done a number of bar and nightclub projects. The Spire Club, BB’s Cafe, Hyde Park and Sage County are among the entertainment venues in their portfolio.
The present status of the application is “incomplete,” so it’s not clear when work will commence.