Alumnus spices up community, keep ties with University

Not far from campus, down Scott Street and past Texas Southern University, lies Sugarhill Lounge in the Third Ward.

Sugarhill is something of an oddity, with its downtown, upscale nightclub look in the suburban strip mall of one of Houston’s historically less affluent areas.

But in many ways, nothing is unusual about that. Such contrasting scenes, nestled within each other, have come to be representative of the city’s non-zoning laws, which gives Houston its overall collage-like aesthetic.

One of Sugarhill’s owners, Rob Wright, graduated with a degree in economics from UH in 1992. After graduating, Wright worked for State Farm Insurance as an agent but found the insurance business less than fulfilling and sought out something else.

Also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha while at the University, Wright was well-versed in event planning and Houston nightlife in general, which would eventually prove advantageous for his current endeavors.

Wright and his business partner opened Sugarhill Lounge in 2012. It was an immediate success and has become a Third Ward nightlife mainstay.

Earlier this year, the pair opened Prospect Park Sports Lounge near the Galleria, modeling it on the famed park in Brooklyn, New York. Like Sugarhill, it is designed to be more cosmopolitan and chic than one would expect for a sports bar.

“It’s a diverse city, and our patrons reflect that,” Wright said.

“Our clients range from 24 to 45 years old, so they’re (relatively) young people, very active and this is a place for them to decompress.”

Aside from housing a club, the space is also for community causes, Wright said. For example, the NAACP has hosted events at Sugarhill. Wright and his business partner also underwrite some of UH’s annual homecoming events.

“It’s my alma mater, and — since my time there, anyway — I’m proud of how distinguished (UH) has become,” Wright said.

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