Cool Bus Houston Crawfish Crawl!

On Saturday, April 28th, we hosted our first ever Houston Crawfish Crawl as we visited 5 top spots that are usually on everyone's list when it comes to "Best Crawfish in Houston".  Each place had it's own unique flavor and offered something the other one didn't.  You really can't go wrong at any of these places,  Below is our recap of each stop, so sit back and enjoy the "ride"...get it?!  Because of the Cool Bus ☺   

1.       The Boot – We started our trip by meeting at The Boot when they opened at 11am.  Needless to say, we didn’t have any issues getting a table as we had our pick of the place haha!  The crawfish had a good taste and they were a large size…think tiny lobsters. They were cooked Cajun style which meant they didn’t have a bunch of spices or additional seasonings on the outside.  They soak in the seasonings in the water allowing for the spices to get in to the crawfish. You will hear about Viet-Cajun crawfish in the next few stops. The spice level did leave our lips burning for a while after we were done.  There is also a 2lb minimum on their orders FYI. - www.thecajunboot.com - 1206 W. 20th St, Houston, TX 77008

2.       Hanks Cajun Crawfish – Next stop was Hank’s Cajun Crawfish in Chinatown.   This is one of my favorite places! They have 5 flavors – Mild, Medium, Spicy, X-Spicy and New Orleans Spicy.   We ordered X-Spicy and Mild for the table. The mild is a good taste with a small, subtle kick, but the X-Spicy is where it’s at!  The spice is a slow burn as it doesn’t really kick in till crawfish number 8-10. It will definitely make you sweat and your nose run, so get the napkins ready!  Our lips were definitely burning by the end! Highly recommend to order a side of garlic bread with your order so you can soak up the juices at the bottom of the tray.   The venue is pretty small (can only accommodate approx. 40-50 people) so be prepared to wait if you decide to go on a Friday or Saturday night. hankscajuncrawfish.com - 10800 Bellaire Blvd G, Houston, TX 77072

3.       LA Crawfish Shack – Our 3rd stop was another popular crawfish stop in Houston, LA Crawfish Shack located at Harwin and Gessner.  This venue was definitely bigger than Hanks, but the crawfish were noticeably smaller. They offered multiple flavors and spice levels.  We went with the spicy lemon pepper, spicy cajun and mild traditional. Of the 3 flavors + spice combos we got, we all agreed that the spicy lemon pepper was the best.  They made us sweat and gave us all a runny nose too. There was a pretty thick sauce on top of the crawfish, most likely from tossing them in seasonings post cooking.  lacrawfishshack.com - 5858 S. Gessner, Houston, TX 77036

4.       LA Crawfish - We ventured over to the corner of Richmond & Weslayan for stop #4 at LA Crawfish – no relation to LA Crawfish Shack…at least I don’t think so.  LA Crawfish serves viet-cajun crawfish. This is a relatively new style that has been taking over Houston and has a different flavor than the normal Cajun style you might be used to at your neighborhood backyard crawfish boil.   Viet-Cajun crawfish have spices and herbs added after the actual boil. Each restaurant has it’s own unique recipe but most places use melted butter, A LOT of garlic, cayenne pepper and other Asian ingredients like ginger and lemongrass. We ordered the 3 flavors that are offered – Garlic Butter, Cajun Run and Hot & Sour.  We all thought that the Garlic Butter flavor was the best of the 3 flavors. Overall we thought they had the best offering of the restaurants thus far, granted they weren’t the spiciest, but still a good burn on your lips.  thelacrawfish.com - 3957 Richmond Ave, Houston, TX 77027

5.       BB’s Café Houston Heights – Our final stop was one of the most popular places in Houston to get crawfish – BB’s Café on White Oak Dr in the Heights.  This place is always full and definitely be expected to wait for a table if you want to dine on Saturday night or Sunday afternoon during crawfish season.  Their crawfish are some of the best in Houston and they didn’t disappoint when we showed up. The crawfish were large in size and had great flavor, but they were even better if, after you peeled them, you dipped the meat in the sauce at the bottom of the tray.   If that didn’t do it for you, they also offer multiple types of dipping sauces.  bbscafe.com2701 White Oak Dr, Houston, TX 77009

Olivia's Going Away Party

Olivia had only lived in Houston for a few years attending law school before it came time for her to pack her bags and start a new venture in Charleston, SC.  But before leaving this great city, she hosted a Going Away Party for one last night out on the town aboard Cool Bus Houston!

The night was one of the most unique and creative parties I have had the pleasure of hosting in the short time we have been in operation.

Olivia laid out the itinerary of various bars around Houston.  Before each bar, Olivia read a short poem she had written that signified her time in Houston.  She even had a special playlist for the commute between stops!  For instance, we listened to country music on the way to Heights Bier Garten and 80s music on the way to another bar!

You could tell that there was a special place in her heart for Houston, even though her time here was short lived and that she was truly going to miss her friends.

Olivia was kind enough to share one of her poems she wrote and I am very excited to share it with you.

Heights Bier Garten (COUNTRY MUSIC PLAYLIST)

My first year in Texas I had a lot of “Firsts” most days,
I found myself loving the Houston ways,
I went to my first rodeo, and had my first tex-mex meals,
I saw the biggest trucks, with the absolute biggest wheels,

College football, don’t get me started,
Watching those games in a Texas bar is not for the fainthearted,
The first time I heard “hook-em” and “gig-em” by everyone screaming,
I thought it was a different language and that I was dreaming.

I learned rather quickly how much Texas people loved their state,
And all the history and tradition that make it so great,
I may have not grown up with country music and cowgirl boots,
But hey, I blame it all on my roots.

Good luck in South Carolina Olivia!!!

Cool Bus Houston - Houston Party Bus - Olivia Going Away Party

Our first flat tire experience

Saturday, April 13th was the Cypress Creek High School Prom at the Berry Center.  The itinerary read as follows:

7:00 PM – Pick up group from Campioni Restaurant and drop off at Berry Center for Prom

10:00 PM – Pick up from Berry Center and drop off at Sugarloaf Ranch in Hearne, TX

12:15 PM – Drop off at ranch in Hearne, TX

Needless to say, the itinerary had a few last minute changes. 

As we were driving through Bryan, TX at approximately 11:45 PM at the Boonville Rd exit, my rear passenger side inside tire blew out.  Luckily the exit from Highway 6 to Boonville Rd was a few hundred meters ahead so we quickly slowed down and exited to a safe location.

The safe location was the Kroger parking lot that was well lit and out of harms way.  Once we were safely parked, I called the parents of one of the passengers to alert them of our situation.  They said that they were on their way to come pick the group up in 2 of their vehicles and it would be about 20-30 minutes before they arrived. 

While we waited, I allowed the kids to get some snacks and sodas from Kroger as my treat for the inconvenience.  Once I had a plan for the kids and their transportation for the remainder of the trip (aka their parents picking them up), I was able to concentrate on getting the actual tire fixed and get the Cool Bus back on the road. 

After about an hour of phone calls and going back and forth with various service companies, I was finally able to get a hold of Martinez Heavy Truck and Tire out of Huntsville, TX.  They were able to dispatch a service truck to my location with a new tire.

After the phone calls and finally confirming with the service company it was about 1:15 AM.  They didn’t show up till almost 3:15 AM.  The service tech on site was Billie.  I don’t think I could’ve asked for anyone better to help me in my situation. Billie was great and he was very knowledgeable.  He was very patient with me as I am sure I annoyed him with all my questions. 

He finally finished around 5:00 AM and, after a quick stop to get some coffee and snacks, I was back on the road to Houston.  I finally got home at 7:15 AM Sunday morning. 

It was a very long and arduous process, but in the end, everyone was safe as it could’ve been a much worse situation.  The flat tire happened at the perfect spot on the highway and it happened to the tire that allowed us to still drive to a safe location. 

I never really knew how I would react to an emergency situation like this, but now after going through this experience myself, I feel comfortable that I can put together a strong plan of action and emergency protocol for my future drivers. 

Big Review TV visits Cool Bus Houston!

We reserved Cinco de Mayo, Friday, May 5th, for our filming session with Big Review TV, an online TV series that features the greatest places to shop, eat, stay and play.   Big Review TV was filming various aspects of Houston and thought that Cool Bus Houston would be a great addition to the overall video.  They said that the feature on us would only last about 1-2 min in their 15-20 minute video.  The film crew thought it would be a good idea to ride with on the bus during a normal night out on Cool Bus Houston as we bar-hopped around the city.  So not to intrude on a customer’s party, I enlisted the help of a handful of friends, whom I knew would show the film crew a good time.

Before we met up with the group of friends, the film crew asked if they could do an interview with me, so I met them at a location in downtown Houston that had a great backdrop of the skyline.  This was also the same location that we filmed the time lapse for the promo video last July.  

After a brief interview, we picked up our partying volunteers and hit the road.  For the first hour or so, we just drove around hot spots in Houston like The Heights, Washington Ave, Downtown Houston and Midtown.  We finally made our first stop, and only, stop at Bovine & Barley which has a very cool lit up “HTX” on the wall. 

After a few drinks for the group inside, we loaded the bus back up and made a few passes around a block so the film crew could get some outside shots of the bus passing through downtown. 

After about another hour or so of driving around, we dropped the film crew back off at their vehicles and eventually the rest of the party group. 

The feedback I got from the film crew over the next few days was great!  They said that the footage they shot was just what they were looking for and that they thought it would be a great addition to their Houston feature. 

I can’t wait to see it!

Cool Bus Houston - Houston Party Bus

Brewery Tours are starting to take off!

Houston's craft beer scene is rapidly growing and it seems like new breweries are popping up all over the city and surrounding areas every few weeks.   Just off the top of my head, I can count around 10 breweries in Houston, but I only know so much!  According to this article from BeerChronicle.com, there are over 30 breweries in Houston and surrounding areas!   That's crazy!  

Out of the 4 parties we hosted in January, two of them were birthday parties that wanted to participate in the growing trend of "Brewery Tours" around Houston where we visit anywhere from 3-5 breweries over the course of their reservation.  Of course, the longer the reservation, the more breweries that we could visit!

For one party that we hosted-  Ryan's Birthday Brewer Tour - we started the day by visiting Saint Arnold's Brewing Company, followed by 8th Wonder Brewery, Eureka Heights Brewing Company, and finally Brash Brewing. 

Our 2nd party - Charlie's 40th Birthday - we visited Eureka Heights Brewing Company, 8th Wonder Brewery, and City Acre Brewing Company. 

The "Brewery Tour" party is quickly becoming one of our more popular events that our customers are requesting!  Not only are you (probably) trying out a few places and beers you may not have previously experienced, but you are also doing it with a designated driver behind the wheel of your party bus, which allows for everyone in the group to participate in the fun! 

It' a great way to kick-start your weekend on a Saturday afternoon or spend your Sunday Funday!  For you parents, I'm sure its a lot easier (and cheaper) to get a babysitter on a Saturday afternoon than Saturday night as well.   And don't forget, you can always BYOB on The Cool Bus so you can keep the party going as we travel to the next stop! 

Give us a shout (713-805-2690) or fill out the information on our QUICK QUOTE page for pricing and availability.  

Cool Bus Houston at the Bridal Extravaganza!

2017 started off with a very busy weekend as we had our first experience set up at the Bridal Extravaganza, but definitely not our last! 

This was a good way to see just how beneficial a trade show like this could be for our business as well as a way to directly see the return on our financial investment to reserve a space and decorate our booth.

The Bridal Extravaganza was held Saturday, January 6th and Sunday, January 7th at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Downtown Houston, TX.  Over 10,000 Brides and their entourages attended the event and it felt like just about every one of them stopped by our booth! 

Cool Bus Houston at the Bridal Extravaganza in Houston, TX

As you can see we had the Cool Bus set up with a couple of tables in front.  One with a "Register to Win a FREE Ride" and the other with a TV with our promo video (Click HERE to watch it again!) running on a loop.  

It was an awesome & fun experience being able to meet and interact with so many people!  People always say that it doesn't feel like when you love what you are doing, and that couldnt be more true for me after this weekend.   Where it might have felt like work to stand for 6+ hours each day, on a weekend, and talk to people, for me, I don't think I ever got tired of talking to people.  I was so excited to talk about the bus and the services we offered.  I was even more excited to see them actually get on board the bus and watch and hear their reactions.   

Throughout each day, we snapped quite a few pictures of the guests in front of the bus and with our fancy Instagram frame that we made especially for this event.  Check them out below...

A few brides definitely had their acts together and knew exactly what they wanted as their wedding was only a few months away.  Other brides seemed like they were getting "Information Overload" as they were still in the early stages of their wedding planning.   The closest wedding we had was literally 2 weeks away on 1/21/17.  The wedding that was the furthest away was set for October 2019!!!

When it was all said and done we collected over 1,400 email addresses!  Even more importantly, we have booked 4 rides to-date and are in negotiation with a few more customers!   

The Bridal Extravaganza was a fun & eye-opening experience that I am very anxious to participate in again!  Can't Wait! 

 

My first paid gig!

I am proud to say that this past Saturday I successfully completed my first paid ride!  Now I know you might be asking yourself, "But Lance, I just read a few blogs ago that you did a Mom's Night Out event?" And yes I did, but since that was technically a "test" ride, I'm not going to count that one.  :)  

This past Saturday, 10/15/16, I actually hosted 2 groups.  The first group, Texas A&M C.A.M.P. (Caring Aggies Mentoring Program) - a group of 12 high school juniors and Texas A&M Former Student mentors - hosted their monthly outing in College Station, TX.  I drove the group from Houston to College Station and back starting at 7:00 AM.  When in College Station, the kids toured the Texas A&M Nursing School and Pharmacy School as part of their experience on campus.  Before we departed, we were able to take a group picture in front of the all impressive Kyle Field. We arrived back in Houston and I finally dropped off our last passenger at 4:00 PM. 

My 2nd ride was for the Cy Ranch Homecoming!  I hosted about 14 high school seniors who started the night by eating dinner at Maggiano's in Memorial City Mall before heading to the dance at the Berry Center.  The night started around 5:30pm and finally concluded at about 11:30pm as I dropped everyone off at one of their houses.  

In all, I say it was a successful first day all around.  The bus was tested throughout the day after taking the long trek to College Station and back and then turning around about 1.5 hours later and having the bus fueled, cleaned and ready to go for the Homecoming event.  

Mom's Night Out

Last night I took a few of my friends out on the town...but this was no ordinary group of friends.  These were all women and all MOMS!  Our plan...to take out the group out to go see the movie "Bad Moms" and then take them out for a few drinks at a bar or 2 downtown.  

So I picked everyone up from one of their houses around 7:00 PM and took them to Sundance Movie Theater downtown for their movie.  The movie last about 1 hr 45 min, so I just parked down the street and hung out while I waited for them to text me once the movie was over.  

After the movie, I picked them up and drove everyone around for about 20-30 minutes while they enjoyed the music and libations before I dropped them off at The Original Okra Charity Saloon.   The girls spent about an hour hanging out at the bar before they called and decided it was time to head on home for the night.  

Once we got back to the house, unloaded and got the bus back to its storage facility, I wound up getting home around 1:30 AM.  Not too bad for a night out on the town hosting these lovely ladies!  

This was the first ride I did where I didnt know most of the people on board and I really enjoyed it!  I'm really excited to get this out to the public, host new faces and have them experience The Cool Bus! 

Cool Bus Houston Mom's Night Out

Annndddd we're back!

Well, after about 8 days on the shelf, we are back and the brakes are working to perfection!  The brakes no longer lose air pressure in stop and go traffic and the brake chambers even fill up with air faster upon the initial engine start up.  It takes approx. 3-4 min to get the tank full of air, when it would previously take about 8-10 min to completely fill with the necessary amount of air. 

Now its time to take it out on the town again!  This time I am trying to get more of a feel for a what an actual night out on the town will be like.  So more bar hopping and hitting up different areas of town as opposed to the video shoot night when we were mainly in the Downtown and Midtown area.  

Since it seems as though a lot of people are busy this weekend, I am going to set the next ride up for next Saturday, August 20th.   Thinking we will hit up Kay's Lounge one last time before they shut down the legendary Houston establishment and the iconic Texas-shaped wooden table will be no more. 

FINALLY!!!

The Cool Bus has officially been completed!!!  WAAAAHHHOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

And it only took 8 months!  

8 months of repairs, maintenance, design, getting quotes, custom fabrication, paint jobs...and a lot of patience.  A lot of patience.  

The exterior graphics are finally complete and I have to say I'm very happy with the way it all came out.  I did feel like I would never get it back as the completion kept getting delayed and moved back, but as much as I wanted to pressure them to complete it, I knew that I should not rush them and allow them to do everything correctly.  

 

 

In addition to the exterior paint and graphics, I also was able to get the inside handrails installed across the roof.  It is actually only 1 really long handrail that is on the passenger side of the bus.  We installed it on this side because it allows for the handrail to go from the front to the back of the bus along with the seating.  The drivers side has the cooler/trash can compartment, so that might not have made as much sense.  

This Friday night we will actually be filming a promotional video for The Cool Bus.  This will be a 45 sec promotional video to be used on the website and all of my social media channels.  I am still working on confirming the route and bars we will visit, but it should be a fun night no matter where we go.  Stay tuned for the video in the coming weeks....coming soon to a YouTube channel near you! 

 

Finally, the fun stuff starts

After 5 weeks of being in the shop, the bus has finally been fixed!  DI Performance did the repair, and after driving it around for a couple of days, so far, so good!  I was able to pick the bus up Monday and I was able to turn the engine off/on with out any issues. 

Now the "fun" work can begin!  I dropped the bus off with Harbros Inc, who specializes in party bus customization on Wednesday.  

They will begin the process of customizing the interior of the bus.  The items we discussed to be completed over the next 2-3 weeks will be:

  1. Install new upholstery with lime green and black vinyl
  2. Install of LED lights under the seats and above the seats that will shine on the interior roof
  3. Paint the interior black.  They will cover up all the blue areas and any other area that hadn't been painted yet
  4. Re-position and installation of new radio with Bluetooth, USB and Aux outlet capabilities.  Radio will be moved closer towards the middle of the bus by the trash can/cooler. 
  5. Installation of 4 cameras and DVR for security purposes.  The cameras will be in position of a dash cam, camera facing the driver, camera facing the cab where passengers will be and a rearview camera to also help in the assistance when moving the bus in reverse
  6. Fabrication and install of handrails across the roof inside the bus
  7. Install of a 110 outlet by the driver seat for phone charging usage
  8. Find and fix the leaks coming from the roof of the bus causing water to get inside

I am very excited that this type of work is finally happening and we are a few more steps closer to seeing the finished product.  

The company will be taking pictures throughout the process and sending them over, so I will eventually be able to post those pictures on the site to see the conversion from start to finish.  

Timing is everything...

Well after close to 4 weeks of the bus being in the shop, the mechanics have finally started making progress on the repair.  They had to replace the lift pump and rebuild the injection pump.  I spoke with the technicians yesterday and they said that the injection pump was in bad shape once they started to rebuild it so it took longer than expected on the repair.  

This should fix the issues that we encountered a few weeks ago when it just died on us when we were driving around one night.  The same issue also caused the engine not to turn over once we shut it off and tried to crank it back up again with in a few minutes.  

They think it will be ready to go by the end of the week.

I guess in the grand scheme of things, its been good timing for this to happen now while the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is taking place.  Since I am heavily involved with the Rodeo, unfortunately a few things with the bus have been put on the back burner over the past couple of weeks.  

So while I would've liked to have the bus up and running, I know it would've been difficult to do any kind of test runs with friends trying to find time in my own personal schedule.  

The good thing is though that with Rodeo taking place, I am able to spread the word about the bus to a lot of people I only see this time of the year.  The friends and peers that I have told are all really excited about it and already want to book rides.  

I have a feeling that once I do "officially" open my doors for business and start utilizing social media in a more meaningful way, things will pick up very quickly.  I am going to have to get used to saying "no" to things that's for sure! 

 

You win some, you lose some

Well, what would a new business be with out a few bumps and bruises along the way?  

This past Friday I asked invited some friends to join me on a ride around town in the Cool Bus.  I have been trying to do a few test runs over the past month or so to get the hang of driving the bus with people in it and Friday was a perfect night. 

I wound up having about 16 people on board and things started off smoothly.  We all met at the Target at I-10/Taylor and then drove to Upper Kirby area to pick up a few other people.  We made our way to The Heights afterwards to make 2 more stops before we made our way to the 1st bar of the night, Lei Low.   

We stayed there for about 20 min while people went in for a drink and a few stayed on the bus to hangout.  I even had some random people come up and ask me about how they could rent the bus.  I told them that it wasn't operating yet, but gave them my business card (**Which reminds me, I need to go ahead and get some made for The Cool Bus).  

Once we were done at Lei Low, we were on our way to pick up some more folks when we hit a bit of a snag.  While stopped at the light at Shepherd and 610, I pulled the bus to a complete stop and without warning, the engine died.  

My buddies on the bus were very helpful as they all got off and helped push the bus to a parking lot to get out of harm's way.  I called my mobile mechanic about what he thought the issue was and he thought it happened to be the fuel solenoid.  He thinks that it might have just gone bad as this particular time.  

After about 20-30 min of waiting and allowing the engine to cool down, I tried to crank it up again and...SUCCESS!! The bus turned over and we were back up and running.  The mechanic said that it would be best if I didn't keep driving around though because he thought the problem would rear its ugly head once again.  

So I drove to White Oak, dropped my friends off in front of Christian's Tailgate and retired the bus for the night on White Oak Dr in front of the Park at White Oak Condos.   My mechanic said that he will be able to address the issue Monday afternoon, so hopefully it will be ready to  go early next week.  

Upcoming schedule over the next few days once it gets fixed - Customize the metal ice well to fit a cooler and a trash can, take it to College Station on Saturday and then drop it off to get painted by next Monday, 2/22.