Since opening in 2014, Calhoun’s Rooftop Bar has not only brought in customers but they have also ran the risk of affecting their neighboring bar, The Den.
Before 2008, the University of Houston lacked an area for students to sit back, relax and enjoy a drink. Aware of the situation, UH took action by bringing The Den to campus. Calhoun’s Rooftop was next in line, which opened in August 2014.
“UH has always been considered a commuter school, which we don’t believe in,” said Calhoun’s Rooftop Marketing and Events Coordinator, Matty Radliff. “There’s a lot of life here at the school, so we want to provide that spot where everybody could unwind, have fun, good food, good times and good friends to kind of pull this community together.”
With high hopes that bringing in new competition onto campus will keep students interested, rather than venturing out into the big city, both The Den and Calhoun’s Rooftop welcome each other’s friendly competition as well as any new businesses to the campus.
“With most other major universities, there is a significant college life around the university at all times,” said The Den General Manager Steve Barron. “That’s one of the things that we were trying to accomplish, and with more competition, then, we see that as giving students a reason to stick around.”
Each business possesses individual characteristics, allowing their guests to choose which bar appeals to their current mood. The Den caters to a calming, low key atmosphere. Calhoun’s Rooftop, on the other hand, serves their guests with live entertainment and an upbeat ambience.
There has been talk that Calhoun’s Rooftop might have taken the spotlight from The Den. Business numbers would not be divulged.
“Demand is the same but there is an increase in supply,” Barron said. “There’s more places, there’s more drinking establishments, and there is a more dispersion of that drinking populace.”
UH public relations student and past Calhoun’s intern, Ashley Mai, coordinated the marketing and public relations at the Calhoun’s Rooftop, and is a devout customer to both bars.
Having the option of picking between two different bars gave her insight. She believes the surrounding areas of each bar have affects on the development of a dependable list of new “regulars,” or specific crowd. With the environment becoming more concrete, this will eventually determine the business of each bar.
“Rooftop has other options, like, if you’re in the area, you can go to Pink’s Pizza, you can go to Cafe 101,” Mai said. “If someone wants to choose to come to Rooftop, they’re going to stay in this area, but if they choose to go to The Den, they’re going to stay in that area, and that area doesn’t have other things besides Subway and the Rec.”
Barron acknowledges that “with more competition, it has divided the consumer base” amongst the bars but still shares the same view as Radliff. The addition of new bars and restaurants will bring in more business, according to Barron.
Thirsty to provide the public with new restaurant access followed by up-tempo bars, Radliff respects The Den’s history and observes the guests’ different needs while providing the same services as Calhoun’s Rooftop.
“I think a lot of people thought they would go out of business right when we opened up, but I told them there’s enough business on campus that we could open up 4 or 5 bars,” Radliff said. “They’re hanging in there just fine just like we are. Hopefully we can attract more people to open up more bars to, you know, it’s only going to help the university.”
Not everyone feels this way since other issues arise when the idea of adding more businesses comes into play.
“I don’t feel like I would really push for it,” Mai said. “If it happens it’s cool, but as far as wanting to add more places I feel indifferent. I think it would be a cool concept, but then again it would take up a lot of space that could be used for parking.”
In the end, The Den bestows a more than satisfying happy hour seven days a week, while the Rooftop’s breathtaking city skyline captivates a memory for its customers. The pair are still distributing their own twist in service to their independent groups of guests.
It’s safe to say whichever bar you choose, you will begin your stay as it ends – satisfied and ready for more.
“The Den holds a special place in [students’] hearts,” Barron said. “It’s where a bunch of different, diverse people come to have a good time.”