Bridget Dunlap on Container Bar and Rainey Street

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Photo taken by Bill Baker.

<p><img alt="" class="media-image attr__typeof__foaf:Image img__fid__33533 img__view_mode__media_original attr__field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]__ attr__field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]__" height="384" src="" title="" typeof="foaf:Image" width="680" /></p> <p>When staying ahead of crime, police need to be creative: Sometimes that creativity apparently comes from a thirty-year-old TV series<span style="line-height: 18.9090900421143px;">—<em>21 Jump Street</em>—</span>that’s been reinvented as a successful comedy franchise starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. That’s the takeaway from an undercover sting operation successfully excecuted over the past several months by the Brazoria County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Task Force, which culminated in six arrests of high school students in suburban Houston. </p> <!--break--> <p><a href="" target="_blank">As the <em>Houston Chronicle</em> reports</a>, the sting operation stretched out for eight months, with youthful-looking officers posing as high schoolers to infiltrate a student drug ring: </p> <blockquote> <p>Six students in Pearland ISD – four of them adults; two still minors – were arrested and handed a total of 10 charges following the Brazoria County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Task Force undercover operation, which began in August 2014 and ended in March 2015.</p> <p>According to a release, the task force seized cocaine, marijuana, Alprazolam and Tramadol from students at Pearland High School and Dawson High School.</p> <p>The task force was assisted by the Pearland Police Department and Pealand ISD.</p> </blockquote> <p>The story quickly went national, and for good reason—it’s a fun news hook, and quirky crime stories that can also be illustrated with photos of Channing Tatum have a very real appeal (we’re not above it, either!). But it’s also worth considering the charming <em>21 Jump Street</em> tie-in in the broader context of Texas’s juvenile justice issues. </p> <p>For example, because 17-year-olds in Texas are always tried as adults, outlets can include the names of four of the six students busted in the sting, even though they’re not old enough to vote or buy a lottery ticket. </p> <p>Teenage drug rings are no doubt a serious problem, but the fact that the operations to bust them involve disguising officers as high school students—and that such a scenario is weird enough to warrant a comedy film franchise—does highlight why there’s momentum for “raise the age” bills currently in the lege. It’s frightening that a high school junior who hasn’t committed a violent crime (none of the charges in the sting are for violent crimes), might find himself or herself facing time in an adult facility designed to imprison violent criminals. And that prospect is only thrown into relief when we’re all laughing about Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. </p> <p>Despite the bills before the legislature, <a href="" target="_blank">action on the issue is unlikely to happen right now</a>. And while, as Senator John Whitmire (who as the head of the criminal justice committee, is in a position to make or break the issue) points out, “a 17-year-old knows right from wrong,” a 17-year-old who is accused of delivering marijuana to a fellow student in a drug-free zone faces a conviction that will follow him for the rest of his life. That may be justice, but a 17-year-old’s sense of consequences are probably not well-enough developed to understand what that will mean later in his life—which is why, in most states, someone that age is considered a juvenile offender, where the focus is on rehabilitation. </p> <p>None of this is new, of course—but it’s worth remembering that as quirky as these undercover sting stories are, the consequences are very serious. </p>

Rainey Street wouldn’t be the same without Bridget Dunlap. The savvy businesswoman transformed the Austin bar scene by envisioning and delivering Lustre Pearl, Clive Bar, and Bar 96. Each of these three projects defied all norms and expectations of typical Austin bars. For those who hated Sixth Street, drunken pedestrians, and dubstep, Rainey Street became the perfect safe haven. Dunlap’s bars have their own personalities, their own styles, their own narratives. Lustre Pearl embodied that beautifully carefree hippie you always admired. Bar 96 was the know-it-all jock you loved to hate. And Clive Bar? It’s like that loyal friend you knew you could always count on when the occasion called for it. In just a few months, Dunlap is closing a chapter with her newest and final Rainey Street project – Container Bar. Here, Dunlap talks with TEXAS MONTHLY about Container Bar, her three “children,” and what’s next on the list for her. What made you decide to use containers as the materials for your new bar? I have an obsession for containers, and I thought they would be easier and cheaper to utilize than they actually turned out to be [laughs], but I still think the aesthetic of them is really profound, simple, and absolutely beautiful.
Bridget Dunlap. Photo taken by Bill Baker.
How did you visualize putting it all together? I knew I wanted to create space, and we knew we couldn’t do a bar with just one trailer, so that’s where the idea of stacking them and surrounding it with a patio came from. We wanted a good outdoor space with the pretty aesthetics of containers. Is this your last bar in Austin? No, it’s just my last one on Rainey Street. Why did you decide to make this one your last? Well, this will be my forth one, and I started it all on Rainey Street. I’m just kind of done with it. What’s next for you? I’m moving in a different direction, and once you’ve done four projects on one street, you kind of just want to move forward. I want to do other fantastic projects, but just not on Rainey Street. Which one of your bars has the most connection with you? Lustre Pearl is my alter ego. Clive is her boyfriend, and 96 is their lovechild. I love them all differently, but I think of them as children. It would be weird to say which one mattered most to me. They all represent something different, and they all bring a different characteristic to Rainey Street. What is going to be the alter ego or personality of Container Bar? Sleek and foxy. A little more sophisticated. Still a comfortable atmosphere, but just a little more sophisticated. How many industrial shipping containers did it take to put it all together? Eight in total. What comes next for you? I have a restaurant I’m working on, and a few exciting things that I can’t quite reveal yet. Stay tuned. When will Container Bar open? I have been planning on the exact date, and I think October 3 is going to be the day. That’s the opening day, and I’m sticking to it!

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