Despite having two businesses flood twice in the past two years, husband and wife Todd and Corey Hayden decided to open a third business in the same Rayford Road shopping center in October—a whiskey bar called Sabbatical.
“It was the worst time ever to open a bar after [Hurricane] Harvey because you’re just broke,” Todd Hayden said. “We had four feet of water at [Rayford Animal Welfare Clinic] and at Hop Scholar Ale House, but we thought, ‘If we don’t do it now, the space won’t be open for another three to five years.’”
Hayden said that while both businesses received one foot of water during the Memorial Day flood in 2016, it was nothing compared to the four feet of water that flooded both businesses in August 2017. The couple took over the space adjacent to Hop Scholar Ale House—which formerly housed a Subway location—shortly after it too, was flooded.
“I’m always concerned about flooding,” Hayden said. “Every time it rains I get worried. It sucks, especially for our employees because then they’re out of a job for awhile. But we want to be this community’s bar—that’s why we’re
Hayden said it took about six months for him and his team to build Sabbatical—without any contractors.
“I got up at 3 a.m. every day for a couple of months to come to Sabbatical to work and then go be a veterinarian and then come back to help run Hop Scholar Ale House and then go to bed and do it again the next day,” Hayden said. “I don’t do anything part time; I do everything full time.”
Located adjacent to Hop Scholar Ale House, which serves beer and wine, Sabbatical is a speakeasy-style cocktail bar that offers a variety of unique liquors including whiskey, rum, tequila and gin.
“Sabbatical is a whiskey bar, first and foremost,” he said. “It was designed for people to explore whiskey and become more educated consumers.”
In the spirit of educating consumers, each drink on Sabbatical’s menu, which will change seasonally, includes information about its age, creator and place of origin.
“I built Hop Scholar [Ale House] as a bar that I’d want to sit in and have a beer; I’ve built Sabbatical as a bar that I’d want to sit in and enjoy a cocktail,” Hayden said.
Hayden said while Sabbatical’s old fashioned is its No. 1 seller, the bartenders are always trying to come up with new creations. He said one of his favorites, the Glo-Po Chico, is Sabbatical’s take on the classic gin and tonic made with turmeric-infused gin, lime and mineral water and served in a Topo Chico bottle.
The two concepts share a kitchen and are connected by a hallway, which Hayden said will transform into a gallery showcasing the work of local artists. The kitchen serves a variety of artisan hot dogs, loaded fries, sandwiches, salads and shareable appetizers for lunch and dinner. The kitchen also serves brunch on the weekends.
“I would describe this as a gastropub because the menu is fairly eclectic,” Hayden said.
Now that their third business venture is open, Hayden said his priorities are providing affordable, safe and enjoyable experiences for patrons.
“This is the No. 1 county for DUIs in Texas—I don’t want that,” he said. “This is about community and hanging out with friends and enjoying products, not getting drunk. There’s places for that, and it’s not my bar.”
As Hayden said he and his team are still working on happy hour specials for Sabbatical, he is most looking forward to the addition of an ice room, which will allow all cocktails at Sabbatical to feature perfectly cut ice cubes and spheres. He said the ice room should be completed by mid-2019.
“Serving cocktails is very different from slinging beers, but they both require knowledge,” he said. “You have to know what you’re selling because people come in and expect you to be an expert on your product—and our staff here does a great job at that.”
610 Rayford Road, Ste. 642, Spring
Hours: Mon.-Wed. 4 p.m.-midnight, Thu.-Sat. 4 p.m.-2 a.m., closed Sunday