Houston Dynamo legend Brian Ching kicks off hot new EaDo bar

Brian Ching is ready to welcome patrons to Pitch 25. Photo by Eric Sandler

This story originally appeared on CultureMap/Houston.

ne of Houston’s most eagerly-anticipated new bars is ready to kick things off in EaDo. Pitch 25 Beer Park, the beer garden and soccer bar that unites Dynamo legend Brian Ching with The Kirby Group, opens its doors to customers for the first time on Friday, June 8.

Pitch 25 blends the beer garden aspects of Kirby Group concepts Heights Bier Garten and Holman Draft Hall with unique soccer elements to create a space that’s unlike anywhere else in Houston. That starts with the venue’s indoor soccer pitch, which is big enough to hold four-on-four matches. In addition, framed jerseys and artwork pay tribute to Ching’s career; he remains the Dynamo’s all-time leading scorer and led the team to two MLS Cup championships.

Even with 42 TVs, Pitch 25 is more than a sports bar. It has a mix of seating options — everything from couches and high-top tables to swings — a huge patio with a stage, and even a few games like shuffleboard and corn hole that will appeal to people who refer to all professional sports as “sports ball.”

Although the retired player had previously invested in a few bars and restaurants, Ching readily admits he needed assistance in operating the 25,000-square-foot venue. To bring his vision of a soccer bar to fruition, he partnered with his longtime friends Andy Aweida and Jeff Barati, who enlisted Kirby Group food and beverage director Steven Salazar and executive chef Brandon Silva to create the food and beverage options. But this isn’t just some branding agreement where an athlete slaps his name on a business, Ching tells CultureMap that he expects to be a regular presence at Pitch 25.  

“I’ll be here pretty much everyday, to be honest. It’s the first business I’ve helped grow from idea to what it is now, and it’s right across the street [from his office with the Dynamo],” Ching says. “It’s something I want to be a part of, because my name is on it. I feel like my reputation is on it. It’s not something I’m going into with just, here’s my name. I want to grow and learn every aspect of it.”

Like Holman Draft Hall and Heights Bier Garten, Pitch 25 features 100 taps of beer (mostly craft along with some national brands) and wine. Although it doesn’t have a set cocktail menu, the bartenders can make classics like an Old Fashioned, a French 75, or a margarita. Two frozen drinks will also be available.

Silva’s food menu focuses on sandwiches, burgers, salads, and vegetable starters. The Brian Ching burger includes pineapple and fried spam in tribute to his Hawaiian heritage.

All of those food and drinks will be available throughout the World Cup. Pitch 25 will open early for some matches, starting at 9 am on Thursday, June 14 for the opening match between Russia and Saudi Arabia. Reservations are available for groups who want to watch the matches together. 

“I think everybody that walks into this place kind of steps back and goes ‘wow.’” Ching says. “It’s big, it’s unique, it’s different. I think if we can capitalize on that, the World Cup will be a great time for people to come and enjoy.”

Salazar adds that it will be a challenge adapting to the early mornings, but his team is ready. “It’ll be long days, but we’re fully staffed. There’s 40 people ready to work the floor,” he says.

Even when the Cup champion has won the final match — Ching says he's rooting for Messi to lead Argentina to victory — Pitch 25 will be ready to provide EaDo residents and revelers with a new place to party. Salazar and his team certainly aim to achieve a business that's worthy of Ching's reputation. 

“We’re not underachievers here. We open big. We dream big. We serve high-quality products,” Salazar says. “If it’s in the realm of possibility, we aim to please. We’re all about hospitality and delivering for our customers.”


Pitch 25; 2120 Walker St.; Open Monday through Friday from 3 pm to 2 am, Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 2 am.

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Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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