The Original OKRA Charity Saloon Celebrates One Million Donated Dollars With A Big Bash

When members of the Organized Kollaboration on Restaurant Affairs (aka “OKRA”) opened The Original OKRA Charity Saloon in December 2012, the concept of a bar that donated all profits to charity seemed like a good idea, but it was untested. Five years later, it’s safe to say the bar’s mission has been extremely successful. The bar celebrates crossing a charitable benchmark with its $1 Million Dollars Donated Bash on Sunday, October 8. The party starts at 4 p.m. and runs until the bar closes at 2 a.m. A $10 donation at the door to help Puerto Ricans recover from Hurricane Maria is suggested.

The Bayou City Brass Band will perform from 7 to 9 p.m. and DJ Sun is spinning tunes from 10 p.m. to close. In addition to a special cocktail menu, there will be tamales, colorful iced shortbread cookies from Paulie’s and donuts from Morningstar.

The charity selected for the landmark donation is Southern Smoke, which is raising money this year to help hospitality employees impacted by Hurricane Harvey. (Read our feature article on the Southern Smoke fundraiser to learn how to donate online or apply for assistance.)

Original OKRA Charity Saloon
Patrons at The Original OKRA Charity Saloon raise donations one drink at a time. Photo by Julie Soefer

Over the years, Charity Saloon patrons have raised money for dozens of charities, one drink at a time. Each comes with a ticket. Customers use these to vote for the non-profit organization that they want to receive the donation that particular month. Beneficiaries to-date include the Houston Area Women’s Center, Aid to Victims of Violence, Big Nameless Sound and the Art League Houston. Donations to individual groups typically range from $10,000 to $30,000.

In September, like many Houston bars and restaurants, Charity Saloon lost some days of business due to Hurricane Harvey. However, by the end of the month, customer support and a matching grant from the Newman’s Own Foundation (founded by the late actor Paul Newman) enabled the bar to donate to three organizations doing vital work after the floods that devastated parts of Houston. The beneficiaries were AniMeals on Wheels, The Montrose Center, and Community Cloth.

Also notable: the Original OKRA Charity Saloon was the forerunner of a fresh wave of bars and restaurants in downtown Houston. New establishments that set up shop near stalwarts like Warren’s, La Carafe and Hearsay included Batanga, Moving Sidewalk, Captain Foxheart’s Bad News Bar & Spirits Lounge (Bad News Bar for short), The Pastry War, Public Services Wine & Whisky and Christian’s Tailgate, just to name a few.

Stay apprised of updates at the $1 Million Dollars Donated Bash event page on Facebook.

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