House of Blues has been a cornerstone of Dallas' music scene since opening in 2007, but unless you've been a member of the venue, you've likely missed out on its best kept secret.
The Foundation Room at House of Blues is an intimate bar space that has primarily hosted private events, but on March 11 it opens to the general public for the first time with a revamped menu and look.
Victor Sutter, vice president of the Foundation Room, says the decision to transform the House Blues' lesser known area into a public bar, restaurant and dance club came after evaluating the business model. The venue, notably the smallest of House of Blues' four sections, was a perk for members, who could stop in for a drink before or after a concert; however, it wasn't utilized year-round.
"There's a lot of real estate up there ... and we weren't using it as best we could," he says.
Sutter's team redid the space by knocking out a few walls, replacing the previously carpeted floor with hardwood and adding updated furnishings. They redeveloped the patio area, which is now a spacious strip of seating for more than 50 people. Crews kept the Foundation Room's Moroccan ambiance, which extends from the tapestry-lined walls and decor to the permeable smell of incense.
One of the biggest changes, however, is the venue's emphasis on live music. The Foundation Room previously hosted small ensembles or a DJ every now and then, but now has its own DJ booth and a designated, if modest, dance floor. Sutter hopes to have performing artists four nights a week.
Connor Cruise, Tom Cruise's son, will hit the DJ booth on March 12.
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The idea is to make the Foundation Room a happy hour destination as well as attract the night crowd looking for an evening of music and dancing, Sutter says.
"We have the ability to flip a switch and make it a dance club environment, but it’s also a lounge,” Sutter says, referring to the newly installed lighting and sound capabilities.
"You can have a different experience depending on what time you want to show up."
Entry to the Foundation Room will always be free, unless there is a special event, which is good since you'll need that cash for food and drinks while you're there.
The revamped cocktail menu features several classic recipes, such as Old Fashioned, French 75 and Gin Fizz. Others, such as the Good Karma Margarita made with tequila, peach syrup, lime and pomegranate seeds, can be ordered "large format," the Foundation Room's version of a pitcher. The bar also has beer, wine and bottle service.
The food menu is slightly more contemporary than House of Blues' bar and grill downstairs. Think Japanese yellow tail tartare bruschetta, shrimp Thai curry and charcuterie. Dishes range from $9 for an appetizer to $46 for a steak entree.
Those looking for a VIP experience can get one. The Foundation Room still offers memberships for an annual fee of $1,200 for the local option and $2,900 for the national option. Perks include priority entry for concerts, discounted VIP tables in the main music hall, 20 percent off at the gift shop, and a free glass of champagne every time you come, among others. The membership is also tax deductible because the money benefits House of Blues Music Forward Foundation, which brings music programs to underprivileged children.
The Foundation Room celebrates a grand re-opening March 11-12, with music from DJ group Faed, local DJ Ryan Cabrera and Connor Cruise, who is Tom Cruise's son. Entry is free. For more information, visit the Foundation Room website.