Another new restaurant will soon be serving customers in downtown Houston.
But this one’s way different.
Dooley’s Sports Grill will be open by mid-January, occupying the space on Steffens Street that has over the years been home to everything from a car dealership, to a furniture store and most recently an eating and drinking establishment. Owner Tommy Gale Jr. has spent months overhauling the building’s interior that now features numerous booths and tables, 16 wall-mounted TVs and dozens of pieces of wall-mounted sports memorabilia representing past and present Missouri professional and college teams, as well as Houston High School squads.
Gale his wife, Mandy, are both Licking natives and currently live in Success. Tommy is a retired Laclede County law enforcement officer, while Mandy has been a familiar fixture at Houston Family Dental for 17 years (and wants people to know she’s going to continue working there).
The Gales stress the family-oriented nature of their new restaurant.
“We are not a bar,” Mandy said. “We have a bar, but this is not a bar.”
“That’s not the type of clientele we want,” Tommy said. “I don’t want people in here drunk and fighting and punching holes in the wall. After my time in law enforcement, I’m done messing with all that and I’m not putting up with it.
“We don’t need the drama; if you want to come here with your family and have a good time, come on in. I want to make people happy, but I’m not willing to deal with trouble walking in the door.”
Dooley’s will feature a full menu of lunch and dinner items. Standard fare will be included – like several types of burgers and different-sized cuts of sirloin and ribeye steaks – but less common choices will, too – like bourbon glazed grilled salmon and brown sugar pork chops.
Customers who wish to have a restaurant-only experience can do just that, as a decorative wall separates the bar side from the restaurant side (and a separate pay station is set up on the restaurant side). The bar side also includes ample seating for meals, along with a lengthy wooden bar with numerous seats.
Tommy said there will be eight beers on tap at the outset (highlighted by locally-made selections from Piney River Brewing Co.), and plans are in place to add even more, including a few other local craft brews. A drink menu features numerous choices, many boasting humorous names with a local flare.
Dooley’s décor leans mostly toward an old-time sports atmosphere.
“That’s been in my head forever,” Tommy said. “I love history – even this building is historic for Houston.”
A section of the restaurant side, called the “Tigers Den,” is dedicated to HHS sports, and is decked out with several framed photos of teams from the early and mid-1900s. Three pool tables are available at Dooley’s, including two on the restaurant side where young people are encouraged to play in the afternoon.
TVs can be tuned to numerous networks that carry sports (and can be on different channels), and a large space on one wall will be used to project select events, like the Super Bowl and the Houston Herald’s live-streaming broadcasts of HHS football and basketball.
“We should be able to get just about any sporting event somebody would want to watch,” Tommy said.
The restaurant’s name comes from Tommy’s past, when his grandfather nicknamed him Tom “Dooley” (after the famous song).
“He called my dad Tom and me Tom Dooley,” Tommy said. “That way he could keep our names straight.”
Mandy said customers of Dooley’s can expect good food, fast service and a family atmosphere.
“We want people to feel at home and welcome,” she said. “They can come in here and eat a good meal and watch a game, and they’ll get treated well – like family.”
Dooley’s Sports Grill will be open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The phone number is 417-967-7107.
“I’ve always wanted to do this,” Tommy said. “Whenever I’ve walked into Buffalo Wild Wings or Applebee’s I always feel like I’m going out. You work all your life and you want to have that ‘out’ experience. I want this place to be like that.
“And we want to make downtown fun again. It’s part of America and we’re losing it.”
“I don’t want people in here drunk and fighting and punching holes in the wall…We don’t need the drama; if you want to come here with your family and have a good time, come on in. I want to make people happy, but I’m not willing to deal with trouble walking in the door.”
– TOMMY GALE