Master Sommelier David Keck Discusses His New Honky-Tonk, Goodnight Charlie’s
Last year, David Keck passed a grueling three-part exam to become one of only 236 Master Sommeliers in the world. So last fall, when he stepped down as wine director at Camerata (the cozy Montrose wine bar he co-founded in 2013) everyone assumed that whatever he did next would also involve wine.
Everyone was wrong. Keck’s next project will be a Montrose honky-tonk called Goodnight Charlie’s, where the focus will be on beer and whiskey, as well as live music and dancing. He’s teaming up with investor Peter McCarthy to build the new bar from scratch at 2531 Kuester, off Westheimer behind the former Buffalo Exchange.
“The wine industry is so cerebral, in terms of tasting all these wines and studying for the Master Sommelier exam,” Keck said. “When I’d get home after a long day, all I’d really want to do is have a shot and a beer.”
Although Keck grew up in Vermont, he sees similarities between Texas dance halls and the folk dancing venues he visited as a child. “There was a lot of fiddle music, a lot of square dancing. That kind of country gathering, I really enjoy that.”
When he moved to Texas, his wife took him to go two-stepping at the legendary Crider’s Rodeo and Dancehall in Hunt, Texas. The couple also visited the White Horse in Austin and, closer to home, the now-shuttered Blanco’s.
“As I looked around Houston, I didn’t see anything like that,” he recalled. “By no means are we trying to be another Blanco’s, which is a Houston institution that you can’t really replicate. But we definitely wanted to open a place where people could go, have a good time, and eat and drink well.”
Although there will be a few Texas wines available at Goodnight Charlie’s, named after famed cattle rancher Charles Goodnight, the emphasis will be on whiskey and beer, which Keck also studied for the Master Sommelier exam. “We were required to know about virtually any beverage you can drink, from coffee and tea to bourbon and rye. Any beverage that can be ordered in a restaurant.” Keck also dealt extensively with spirits when he was working as a bartender in New York before moving to Texas.
To design the menu for Goodnight Charlie’s, Keck turned to former MasterChef contestant Alvin Schultz, who specializes in Tex-Mex cuisine. The approximately 4,500-square-foot bar will feature a dance floor, a stage for live music, and of course a large bar. Keck and his partners are aiming to open in August or September of this year. “Our architect did a great job of designing a cool little space that fits there,” Keck noted.
Montrose isn’t traditionally known for its country and western bars, but that didn’t deter Keck. “That’s why it makes sense,” he explained. “It’s just kind of fun to have a honky-tonk in the middle of Montrose.”