Over the past two years, Downtown’s Main Street has been infused with Southern flair, thanks to local entertainment and management company Salt ‘N Pepper Group, or what many like to call “the brains” behind The Moonshiners Southern Bar + Table, Dizzy Kaktus and Boots ‘N Shoots.
The Salt ‘N Pepper group began as an offshoot from KCH Entertainment – the operating partners of Pub Fiction, Third Floor, and other well-known Midtown establishments. Daut Elshani, Marketing and Product Director along with five partners and close childhood friends, took over operations from KCH and formed the entertainment and hospitality team that is now the Salt ‘N Pepper Group. The Houston-based management group recognized the booming entertainment and nightlife scene in Downtown and was quick to jump in on the action, opening three Southern-themed concepts in the eclectic Historic Market Square neighborhood. “The main thing that drew us Downtown was the growth that Downtown Houston has seen over the past few years. Whether it’s dining or nightlife, it’s been noticeable for sure,” shared Elshani.
The Moonshiners Southern Bar + Table sits on the corner of Main and Prairie, and brings an outdoor atmosphere indoors with its elaborate wooden textures and modern rustic accents. Whether you’re on your lunch break, stopping by for happy hour after work, or having dinner with friends, guests will enjoy an array of finger-licking Southern comfort dishes, like their popular Grilled Cheese Brisket Sandwich or Chicken ‘n Waffles, along with a side of warm hospitality. “We wanted to give customers a little treat of what the South is about,” says Daut Elshani. “Our sign says ‘Southern Hospitality’ and we pretty much prove that.”
Folks can keep the party going after dinner by walking across the street to Salt ‘N Pepper’s whiskey and shot bar, Boots ‘N Shoots. This modern-day Texas saloon turns it all the way up with live DJ’s every weekend and a dance floor on the second level for anyone looking to bust a move. Although known for their handcrafted whiskey cocktails such as Fixin’ to Boot, Howdy Pig or Bless Your Heart, you can also take your chance and let the massive Plinko board decide your fate. An insiders tip: get there before 11 p.m. as it gets packed.
Two blocks up the street from Boots ‘N Shoots and The Moonshiners sits Dizzy Kaktus. Walk inside the double doors and you’re instantly hit with a splash of vibrant colors and a striking art piece of Frida Kahlo. Expect to find a variety of Instagrammable-worthy Margarita Swirls, as well as a sizzling taco menu and other delightful Tex-Mex options. Dizzy also has great happy hour specials and is open late (3 a.m.) on Friday and Saturdays.
Operating not only one but three different concepts within a three block radius in the heart of Downtown has many benefits, and throughout his journey Elshani has learned a thing or two. “Initially the biggest lesson has been to have patience and simply letting a venue build to what it is,” he said. Elshani and partners try to stay relevant in Houston’s highly competitive market by listening to their customers and adjusting to what they ask for.
As for the years ahead, Elshani has no doubt that Downtown will continue to “grow exponentially” within the next five years. “I believe we will see a lot more residential, a lot more Houstonians that will live and work here. In addition to that, with all the new hotels, we’re also going to build a greater atmosphere for visitors. Downtown is not a trend, it’s here to stay.”
Cheers to that!