The old V.I.P Lounge on White Settlement Road served a thirsty population for almost three decades. With its shag carpet, drop ceiling, and 30 years of cigarette smoke buildup, this beloved establishment was your quintessential dive bar. But after COVID-19 took its hit, the V.I.P watering hole dried up. When word got out that the space was for lease, Chris Jordan, owner of The Mad Hatter located on the ever-appropriate Carroll Street, another Fort Worth favorite, saw an opportunity to expand his Wonderland. And since Jordan doesn’t believe in adventuring alone, he established a partnership with good friends Kristin Thomas, Bailey Batts, Deandre Young and Jywon Young.
The Rabbit Hole Pub opened earlier this month and features the same whimsical spirit and theme as its sister tavern, along with its reputation for having an affordable beer list. But don’t be fooled by the pub’s welcoming atmosphere with its ample natural light, colorful patio mural and upscale restrooms, the quintet worked tirelessly for seven months to get to this point. “We legitimately ripped out every single board, nail and screw out of this place,” Jordan said. The renovation was what Thomas, co-owner and marketing guru, referred to as an ‘on hands and knees’ experience.
This new-old spot has been well received by Crestwood and Monticello locals eager for a contemporary neighborhood haunt, as well as the crowd that’s been loyal to Mad Hatter for the last seven and a half years. “We just want the locals to be able to come in an afford a nice drink…a place that’s comfortable and nice to be around,” Jordan said. Always thinking of a way to better serve their customers, The Rabbit Hole features a reverse happy hour Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until noon for the workers who are ending their days when most of us are still in pajamas. “There isn’t a place for these people to go,” said Jordan. (Not to worry, day workers, the pub also upholds the standard happy hour from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays.)
Talking with Jordan about his newest endeavor, you can’t help but feel touched by the passion he has for his business, his partners, and their patrons. Aside from always striving to provide a Cheers-like ambiance, Jordan takes opportunity to use his bar business for good. “One thing that’s really, really big for us is charity and giving back,” said Jordan. In the past, Mad Hatter has raised money for families in need, collected and donated Christmas gifts, and hosted multiple charity events. And The Rabbit Hole Pub has even more square footage to commit to philanthropic pursuits because, according to Jordan, “there’s nothing in life that’s gives you a better feeling than giving.”
Although she prefers burnt orange to purple, Hannah Bush is happy to call Fort Worth her new home. She began freelance writing a few years ago to break up the monotony of her 9 to 5, and to prove to her parents that she’s making good use of her journalism degree. When she’s not hanging out with her cat, Hannah can likely be found on a patio with her husband, talking about her cat.