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Restaurants / Bars

New Golf Bar With Live Music Hits Sawyer Yards, Emerges as Topgolf Competitor

From High School Buddies to Young Entrepreneurs With a High-Tech Swing Plan

BY // 02.05.19

A brand new indoor virtual golf destination is teeing up in Sawyer Yards. Loft18, a Louisiana-based indoor golf and entertainment center, is set to open up this summer.

It’s aiming to be a top golf spot — just don’t confuse it with Topgolf.

“We wanted to see what was out there, at the lack of what was out there. There were Topgolfs everywhere. There’s nothing at this level of food, beverage, hospitality aspect with the simulations,” Loft18 president Greg Whitman tells PaperCity.

Expect five custom-built, state-of-the-art Full Swing Golf simulator stalls that feature 95 championship courses and a variety of games in a 7,400-square foot space complete with a balcony and patio.

Virtual simulators are par for the course at this type of golf complex. But Loft18‘s blend of full-service bar with happy hour, club-level dining and live music attempt to bring a different element.

Whitman teamed up with high school friends Brett Gaudet, Loft18’s vice president, and Chris Molina, its general manager, about four years ago. The trio were friends throughout high school, before going off their separate ways after graduation.

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Whitman entered the entertainment biz, and the others tackled sales and hospitality. Once they reconnected, they strove to bring all their experiences together — centered around a lifelong pastime.

“We all played sports growing up, but golf was just one of those things that was always there,” Whitman says.

But Loft18 goes beyond golf. Players from pros to beginners are welcome, but some visitors kick back without ever taking on a course challenge.

The philosophy is Eat, Drink, Golf, and it’s more about entertainment than strictly golf.

“We really want to be an entertainment venue, so what we’re seeing is non-golfers, groups of people just coming in to team build, hang out and have a drink, or grab food and watch the game on TV,” Whitman says.

“It’s a really eclectic mix, demographically. I think that’s what makes us really stand out.”

You can expect tons of golf challenges as well as games that incorporate clubs and balls but aren’t strictly golf-themed.

loft18 woman playing
Loft18 draws players of all skill levels.

The deets on the eats for the Houston location haven’t been released quite yet, but customers can certainly get a sense from the gastropub-style menu at Loft18’s Maiterie location. That’d be shareables such as pan-seared lamb lollipops and hole-e-macaroni with queso and bacon, burgers such as the Hit it Straight with applewood smoked bacon and house sauce, and flatbreads such as the burrata pesto with shredded mozzarella and a balsalmic glaze.

And for some added NOLA flair, Loft18 throws in some beignet fries on the dessert menu for good measure.

The cocktail menu runs the gamut from the Irish Goodnight with Jameson and Canebrake beer to the tequila-heavy Flying High and Nolet’s G&T with Saint Germain.

Happy hour runs 3 to 6 Mondays through Fridays, with half off wines by the glass, half off draft beer and $3 well drinks.

“We’re family-friendly, but with events and such we’ll try to restrict ages. During the day, all ages, then at night at the bar get some live music in there with an older crowd,” Whitman says.

Whitman and his partners opened the first Loft18 about a year and a half ago in Metairie, Louisiana, about six miles from New Orleans. They’re bringing the concept to Houston because of their connection to the city and the opportunities of an active business market.

“It’s going to be our baby here just as much as it is in Metairie,” Whitman notes. “We’re just three normal, young guys that have a vision and a dream. Unlike many of those faceless corporations, we want to be at the forefront. We’re excited to mix it up with the people in Houston and build those new relationships.”

Starting this summer, you can head on over to see if this concept is a hole in one.

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