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

Better A/C finally installed!

When I first opened Cool Bus Houston and I was in the process of setting the bus up with A/C, I went to a number of companies to get quotes and find out the best way to cool down the bus.  Quotes ranged as little as $2000 and as much as $12,000 and the options were either a roof top unit powered externally or A/C that would be installed inside the bus and run power through the bus engine.  I wound up installing a roof top unit similar to what you would see on a RV.  I went to Camping World to get it installed and with their recommendation, I thought I was set. 

As the months went on, I quickly realized that the A/C unit that I had just wasn’t doing the job.  Sure it would cool down the bus to an extent.  It would only run for a few hours before the external generators that were mounted on the rear of the bus to power the unit ran out of gas.  It was a whole process trying to remove the generators from the compartment and to fill them up and then put them back in place. 

Needless to say, I was frustrated with everything that went in to running the A/C.  Luckily the weather was on my side for the first half of the year so A/C wasn’t necessary, but I knew a change had to be made. 

After doing some more research, I finally came across Bus Air Manufacturing out of the DFW area.  They had been around since 1992 installing A/C in school buses, fire and emergency vehicles, utility and parcel trucks and off road heavy trucks.  They say “If it has wheels, we can create a climate control system for it.”

I finally got a quote and a timeline for installation.  The only issue was that I was going to have to find a way to get the bus from Houston to Rhome, TX (just north of Fort Worth) where their shop was located.   Sure I could drive it, but that would’ve taken around 6-7 hours due to the fact that the bus doesn’t go over 60 mph.   I was able to hire a trucking company to transport the bus to the facility and save me a lot of time.

After about a week, the bus finally made it back to Houston with the new A/C installed!  As soon as I could, I got inside the bus and cranked it up and it was awesome!  It cooled the bus down in under a minute! 

The next few parties on the Cool Bus were during July & August, some of the hottest months in Houston, TX.  I could not have been happier that I was able to install the new A/C because all of my customers loved it!

One thing I’ve learned while running this business is that nothing is going to come easy – especially when it comes to matters of bus mechanics. 

With adding such a large electrical load to the engine, it was just a matter of time before issues popped up.  The installer at Bus Air said that I might want to take a look at my alternator as he thought it might not be big enough to power the A/C plus all the other items I had on the bus. 

Well it turns out he was right.  The more rides I did, I could tell there were issues with the power as there were times where the subwoofers would cut out or the LED lights inside weren’t working.  I knew I had to get this fixed to make sure the bus was fully operational to give my customers the full Cool Bus Houston experience.

I took the bus in to Finch Alternator & Starter Rebuilder to search for a solution.  With their recommendation, I wound up installing a 200 amp alternator that was bigger than the 140 amp alternator that was originally installed. 

On my next ride, with A/C at full blast and music and lights fully operational, the larger alternator held up and did the trick!   

2nd Annual Mullet Fishing Tournament in Seadrift, TX

I was always curious as to how far I could take the bus away from Houston.  Well, the weekend of June 24, 2017, I got to push the bus a little further than I had before.

We were booked to host the guys participating in the 2nd Annual Mullet Invitational Fishing Tournament in Seadrift, TX.

Seadrift, TX is about 150 miles from my house in Houston and according to Google Maps, only 2 ½ hours away.  Well, the morning of 6/24, Mother Nature decided to put me through some tests and brought down some pretty nasty weather as I was on the road.  Visibility was very low and so was my speed.  I had yet to drive through something like this before so I wasn’t taking any chances.

A 2.5 hour trip turned in to a 4 hour detour as I made my way out of Houston and down southeast Texas.  On the way, I made sure that Cool Bus Houston stopped and introduced itself to a Texas tradition, Buc-cee’s!

Cool Bus Houston party bus and Buc-cee's

After finally making it to Seadrift, I picked up a handful of guys and made our way to Port O’ Connor for the post-tournament festivities.  The guys kept with the theme of the tournament and they all continued to wear their mullets throughout the night.

Cool Bus Houston - Houston Party Bus

Our first stop was Hurricane Junction where dinner was served, winners announced and raffle prizes handed out.  They even had a live band that was unfortunately cut short, due to the inclement weather, so everyone hopped on the bus and we began our bar crawl around P.O.C. as we hopped between Josie’s Cantina, Madden’s and Hurricane Junction over the next few hours.

Cool Bus Houston - Houston Party Bus

We finally made it back home in Seadrift by 2am and David, the host, was kind enough to let me crash at their house for the night so I didn’t have to drive all the way back to Houston late at night.

After a good night’s rest, I woke up refreshed and hit the road back to Houston.  This time it only took me about 3-3.5 hours to get home.  Not because of any inclement weather, but just the fact that the bus doesn’t go any faster than 60 mph!  #slowerthanmolasses

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

Giving Back at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo

On Friday, March 24th, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo held the Annual Junior Market Barrow Auction at NRG Arena.  The annual auction is one of seven auctions that the Houston Livestock Show hosts that totaled over $15 million in sales in 2017.  The money raised at the auction helped award over $14 Million in scholarships to Texas high school graduates. 

Cool Bus Houston participated in the Annual Junior Market Barrow Auction for the first time in our first year of operation.  This was an event that we were looking forward to for some time.  We want to ingrain ourselves in the city of Houston and give back to the community that has already given us so much. 

Now we didn’t get to purchase the Grand Champion Barrow that went for a world record $212,000 this year, but we were part of a group that raised over $6,000 toward our purchase of Lot 39.  That was Lot 39 out of over 600 lots. 

Here we are pictured with our buying group (The 1500 Club) and the young lady in the middle holding the bronze bowlegged “H” trophy, was the one who raised and showed the pig that we wound up buying.

Cool Bus Houston - HLSR Swine Auction

While we are constantly working on growing our business and trying to book more parties, we will always have time to give back to Houston and especially the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. 

For those that don’t know a lot about the “The world’s largest celebration of agriculture, education, entertainment and Western heritage”, the 85th annual Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo drew a record-breaking 2,611,176 visitors during the 3 week span from March 7 – 26, 2017.  Over 33,000 volunteers take time out of their day year-round to help ensure that the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo is a world-class entertainment experience.

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. 

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!