Voodoo Cat Magic Transforms Kemah Venue
Story by Patty Andrew | Photography by GH Andrew
No hurries, No Worries. That’s the playful motto at Kemah’s Voodoo Hut. This popular night spot that features live music, hand painted murals, and eccentric skulls, has been the Lighthouse District’s crazy go-to bar for those looking for fun in an offbeat atmosphere for years. The drinks flow, the music raves, and the neon radiates. Why change?
In early 2020, it became apparent that COVID-19 was spreading quickly and that local businesses would have to shut down to combat the spread of this deadly disease. Neighborhood bars were hit very hard as they were closed for months due to the potential of possibly being hot spots for spreading the virus. Restaurants, those establishments that had at least 50% of their business selling food, slowly were allowed to provide take-out only and then, could have minimal seating inside. Bar owners realized to rescue their businesses, they would have to start offering food, follow the social distancing guidelines, and rework their company models.
Voodoo Hut had been wanting to add food to their operations for some time. They looked at the new restrictions as a challenge so they could legally serve customers while following the rules to keep people safe. Voodoo Hut bolted tables to the floor so that they would be the proper distance from one another. Bartenders, servers, and all staff wore masks to protect each other and patrons. They took advantage of the downtime to build palapas on their outdoor deck and make other structural improvements to the facility. The bosses made a decision to keep paying their managers. But most successful of all, they were scratched by a cat.
Jim Harvey, owner of the Cat Scratch Kitchen at Voodoo Hut, brought his years of restaurant experience to Kemah with some ideas and great recipes. Starting with a smoker and a flat top grill, Jim began providing food at Voodoo Hut in May, 2020 while he worked to build a kitchen in the back of the property. By July, the kitchen was opened, Cat Scratch was born, and Voodoo Hut was saved.
Cat Scratch prides itself on having food that is made by hand: bread, meats, kettle fried chips, and even pickles. If they don’t make it directly, they find a local vendor that does. Jim started in the restaurant business as a teenager on the East Coast, so the menu thrives with great options such as bagels, Reubens, Cuban sandwiches, and pizza with hand-thrown crust. Being in Southeast Texas means that Mexican and Cajun inspired dishes are available, as well as perennial favorites such as cheeseburgers, onion strings, and wings. There are plenty of tasty appetizers, salads, and even hot dogs to tempt you for eat-in or take-out.
Just adding food was not enough for Voodoo Hut. Under the careful guidance of General Manager Jourdan Paultz, Voodoo Hut started opening on Saturday and Sunday mornings for brunch, welcoming locals, families, and tourists alike with great food, play areas for the kids, live music, and adult beverages. The biscuits are handmade with a sweet tease of honey butter coating on the crunchy outsides. Order them stacked with eggs, bacon, sausage, and gravy for a hearty Southern meal. If you like to please your sweet tooth at breakfast, try one of the pancake entrees, such as the blueberry smothered in a fruity and juicy compote nicely complemented with their honey butter. Most of the entrees come with their peppery potato hash, hot off the grill. For a lighter option, try some avocado toast with egg and fruit. Order a homemade bagel with a generous slab of cream cheese to eat there or take with you. To top off your brunch experience, decorate your Bloody Mary with bacon, pickled Brussels sprouts, hot sauce, or other delicacies for that perfect morning kickstart.
Voodoo Hut and Cat Scratch are working their magic together to provide a place where families can go for weekend brunches or pick-up food for dinner. Partiers can come to enjoy the nightlife they have always found in abundance at Voodoo Hut. Hungry folks can stop by for lunch or dinner during the week for a leisurely meal or quick bite. Watch for local massage therapist Amie Cave, who provides chair massage as an added bonus to this unique venue. Crawfish boils, Mardi Gras, and St. Patrick’s Day are all on their way, so plan to come and enjoy.
There is something for everyone here at Voodoo Hut and Cat Scratch. Go once and you’ll definitely be under their spell!