Standing up to the big bad Covid wolf
By Patty Andrew | Photos by GH Andrew
In the fairy tale about the Three Little Pigs, the big bad wolf huffs and puffs but can’t blow down the pig’s brickhouse because it is built solidly and firmly. If the wolf can’t get in, then he can’t eat the pig and they live happily ever after. Jackie’s Brickhouse has built its own version of the story with the bricks of innovation, makeover, and creativity to keep its business thriving against the COVID Wolf and economic hits that are damaging other establishments during 2020.
Guy and Cristin Rodgers, owners of Jackie’s Brickhouse in Kemah, took the solid business foundation left for them three years ago when they bought this popular sports bar and night spot, and built additional reinforcements to take them through this year of the pandemic. When Jackie’s got the word that the state was shutting down restaurants and bars, they regrouped to focus on two key activities: build the to-go business and remodel the facility. Staff were given the choice to join in on the remodeling efforts, or, not work to take advantage of the increase in unemployment benefits. The core group of folks who stayed are now a stronger bunch and have an instilled pride in making Jackie’s better than ever.
Jackie’s To-Go business meant creating some family packs for busy people who needed to provide quick meals for those at home who had been Zooming classes or meetings all day long. Jackie’s kitchen provided packages full of chicken strips or tacos for curbside pick-up complete with all the trimmings. Because the shutdown started in the Spring, Jackie’s turned its booming crawfish boil business into a to-go option and sold 20 to 40-pound containers full of the Cajun mudbugs to eager partakers of the spicy goodness. Adding online ordering made everything easier for customers, so picking up was fast and convenient.
While the staff helped build the curbside pickup business, Guy also lead them to assist with the remodeling and cleaning needed for Jackie’s. While they had actually started some of the remodeling before COVID, they picked up the pace and improved their plan to capitalize on the extra time and workers on hand. These dedicated people scrubbed, painted, and updated Jackie’s inside and out.
Welcome to the Speakeasy. One of the Rodgers’ first remodeling projects after they bought Jackie’s was to redo the second floor. The former upstairs offices now house a private club, The Speakeasy. It is available for rent to host parties and soirees, featuring its own bar, comfortable seating areas, big screen TV’s, and an open balcony overlooking the busy Brickhouse stage and dance floor below. The antique décor, subdued lighting, and secluded entrances takes customers back in time when liquor flowed freely behind locked doors in rooms full of flappers and fellas sipping the illegal hooch while they hid from nosey coppers.
The Patio Bar is covered with a Palapa that flies flags of different Texas sports teams waving in the open breeze that flows through the area. (Is your favorite college team there? Mine was! Go Baylor Bears!) The Patio Bar serves drinks from a converted shipping container that is from one of Guy’s other businesses. Picnic tables dot the Patio, giving it a very comfortable and family friendly atmosphere. Separate tables are in the back for the smoking area as the main dining and dancing areas of Jackie’s inside are now smoke-free. Musicians entertain the diners outside, taking requests and belting out favorites. Because this is Texas and outside can be hot, Jackie’s has added fans and misters to keep patrons cool while they sip adult beverages and dig into the delicious fare.
The building isn’t the only thing that has been remodeled. Under the guidance of manager John Barrera, Jackie’s has been reworking its menu and food offerings to include new items and special menus on certain days. These changes were important both to the renovation plans and the to-go business. Taco Tuesday boasts seven different tacos for just $3 all day long. Be sure to try the Shrimp and Chorizo Tacos or splurge on some Crawfish Enchiladas for $12. Wednesdays have two big attractions: Steak Night (Beef, Tuna, Pork) with Whiskey Wednesdays’ $5 shots. Try an All-You-Can-Eat Shrimp & Fish Basket on Thursdays while you enjoy live music from bigger bands on the main stage or solo musicians in the Patio Bar.
John, who really makes the whole place tick, ensures that most everything served is prepared, cut, battered, and cooked by hand. The food tastes as fresh as it looks because it is! You can count on Jackie’s pizza, burgers, salads, entrees, and desserts to be tasty and served in generous portions, including their homemade bread pudding.
Jackie’s dishes up Brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 AM to 2 PM. Come and try their newest item, Buttermilk Biscuits ‘n Gravy, or an established favorite, Cajun Hash and Eggs. The Buttermilk Biscuits ‘n Gravy is punctuated with a topping of green onions, cheese, and savory crumbled sausage. The complexity of the flavors deliciously jumps out at you in every bite. The Cajun Hash and Eggs arrives in a neat bowl jam-packed with andouille sausage, chopped potatoes in butter, guacamole, cheese, and an egg cooked to order. The A La Carte Waffle was crispy on the outside, soft in the center, and came with a dusting of powdered sugar and blueberries. Enjoy mimosas with brunch? Jackie’s offers a bottle of champagne with all the orange or cranberry juice you can drink for make-your-own-fun-in-a-glass for $10.
Is Jackie’s Brickhouse still a great place to enjoy live music? Absolutely! Thursdays through Saturdays, you can be entertained with shows from all around on the big inside stage, now in a smoke-free environment. They do have a cover charge for certain acts, so check on the website for advanced ticket sales and more information. Check out some smaller bands in the Patio Bar. Guy likes to have musicians that are unique here, meaning those not as often seen in the Clear Lake Area, so follow the postings for the latest information. Look for coverage of some of these artists in Bay Area Houston’s Rhythms on the Bay.
Finally, Jackie’s Brickhouse not only works to improve their business, they also give back in tremendous ways to the community. They have supported some of the biggest fundraisers around over the years including Texas Equusearch, Break the Chain (Human Trafficking), and First Responders Golf Cart-A-Thon. These events draw huge crowds and generate large donations for many great organizations.
Will there be more changes at Jackie’s Brickhouse? Guy assures us that he, Cristin, and John are always working on the menu, coming up with new ideas for the building, and looking for ways to offer unique opportunities of fun for the customers and the community. Will another pandemic, hurricane, or disaster slow them down? As Guy says, “When you keep getting curve balls, you have no choice but to whack at them.” At Jackie’s, they have definitely hit the home run.
Jackie’s Brickhouse is located at 1053 Marina Bay Dr., Kemah, Texas. They open every day at 11 AM and stay open until 10 PM on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays; until Midnight on Wednesdays and Thursdays; and until 2 AM on Fridays and Saturdays. Kitchen closes earlier on some nights. For more information, follow them on Facebook or go to their website at www.jackiesbrickhouse.com.