AP NEWS

Duke’s in Humble seeks to retool predecessor’s image

May 9, 2019

With “Duke,” three boxes were checked in one go. As General Manager Brandon Hayes recalled, the bar-and-restaurant’s three owners settled upon the name after one owner was looking for a mononym, another one loves John Wayne growing up and the other has a dog with the same name.

But Hayes said it also reflected an image refresher and, from there, a firm identity. Before the monthslong remodel and the grand opening on February 22, the business at 6303 FM 1960 W. Road, Humble was The Runway Bar & Grill, which he described as a dive bar during afternoons and evenings before shifting to

It was appealing for a clientele he said was “rougher.” He heard stories of fisticuffs in the parking lot.

There were shootings, too, said Alisha Doan, the establishment’s waitress and bartender.

“There were guys, when we first open, would bring me and show me cellphone footage and go, ‘Hey, look at this fight, it was right there’ and ‘Here’s this fight,’” she said.

As Duke’s, Doan and Hayes said the vibe is more positive now. Happy hour is from 11 a.m., or opening, to 7 p.m, which prompted Doan to emphasize that Duke’s — unlike The Runway — is also a lunch spot. There is an outdoor area with games to play like cornhole, giant Jenga, Connect Four and backgammon.

After 9 p.m., the place ends its family-friendly status, turning the music up a bit louder and, on the weekends, having a DJ in the house.

“We’re doing something that maybe you’d expect to see more often in The Woodlands or down in the Heights, but not so much in this area,” Hayes said.

The upscaling is also reflected in the food, he added. Duke’s menu has in-house wings — available bone-in or out — that can be prepared in six different ways, half-pound burgers with scratch-made patties from Houston-based Gourmet Ranch and quarter-pound gourmet beef dogs with meat from Cameron-based 44 Farms.

Doan said the improvements from the back to the front of house have been a hit with patrons.

“Everyone that used to come here has raved about how great it looks,” Doan said. “Even though we did take a long time to open I think people felt like it was worth it, you know?”

Hayes said more additions will come to Duke’s, including daily specials, the drive-thru lane and live performances on the stage in the back.

Duke’s Kitchen in Humble opens at 11 a.m. daily, with closing hours going from midnight to 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Its official page is dukeshtx.com, Facebook page is “dukesboozebrewskitchen” and phone number is 832-644-1861.

nguyen.le@chron.com