I was in Houston from 1978 through 2004. I was a student at Baylor College of Medicine, and around late 1985/early 1986 we had a student from Rice working with us on doing some computer modeling. She asked me if I wanted to go for a beer at a new place in Rice Village called The Ginger Man. It was very new… not much furniture, not much to look at, but it had several taps of wonderful imported beer. I was poor, and spent almost all my time studying or doing experiments, but The Ginger Man became my treat after a long day. I could afford one beer and a modest tip. Eventually, I got to know the owner, Bob Precious, and we became friends. I’ve been associated with The Ginger Man since then. A lot has changed, and a lot has stayed the same. I wrote a brief history that’s on the official webpage of The Ginger Man that I’ll reproduce here.
The first in the family of pubs was created in Houston in 1985 by Bob Precious. Certain aspects of Bob’s history bore resemblance to the main character, Sebastian Dangerfield, in J.P. Donleavy’s 1952 novel The Ginger Man*, and this provided the name of the pub. The blossoming appreciation of fine imported beers and the excellent level of service provided by the Houston pub led to overwhelming success and a desire to expand to other cities in Texas. The Dallas pub opened in 1992 and the Austin pub followed in 1994.
Around this time Bob and his family left Texas and moved to the Northeast. Not being content to have New Yorkers suffer from lacking the experience of Texas hospitality and a fine selection of beer, Bob built a pub in the Murray Hill section of Manhattan in 1996. As with all the pubs, it was overwhelmingly successful.
As the Manhattan pub required a large percentage of Bob’s time, he felt he was ignoring the original Texas pubs. He knew that running a proper pub requires a great deal of work to maintain the quality of both beer and service, and sought out buyers in Texas who would be able to run them with the proper level of diligence. In 2000, after a long vetting process, the three existing Texas pubs were sold to Steve and Christy from Dallas. Bob was confident they would maintain the Texas pubs in the style he had created them, and he was right. Steve and Christy have changed little in the spirit of the pubs, while streamlining the back-of-the-house operations to remain competitive in an ever more difficult economic climate.
Early in 2007 Steve and Christy put their own mark on the Texas family of pubs and built the first new Texas Ginger Man in many years in Ft. Worth, where it has been greatly loved by those who appreciate good beer and good service. Last year (2009) the boom in downtown Austin high-rises led to the need to move the Austin pub to a location just a block away.
There has been no lack of energy on the East Coast either. There are Ginger Man pubs in Greenwich and Norwalk, Connecticut run by Bob’s longtime colleague, Christian, and the Manhattan pub remains under the stewardship of Mr. Precious. There is no business connection between the Texas and East Coast pubs, but we remain good friends based on our shared histories and similar goals.
And that brings us to the present day in Texas and two brand new Ginger Man pubs in Plano and Southlake. We have full confidence you’ll love them as much as the others.
Rick Gray, Ph.D.
Spiritual Advisor and Ombudsman
The Ginger Man
*Set in Ireland just after World War II, The Ginger Man relates the bawdy, picaresque misadventures of Sebastian Dangerfield, a young American studying at Trinity College, Dublin. Time magazine called Dangerfield “one of the most outrageous scoundrels in contemporary fiction, a whoring, boozing young wastrel” and predicted correctly that readers would come to love him for his “killer instinct, flamboyant charm, wit—and above all for his wild, fierce two-handed grab for every precious second of life.”
Sebastian is a source of inspiration for many of us.