His uncle managed the Cask 'n Flagon outside of Fenway Park in Boston when he was young. His late aunt and her husband also owned bars in New York.
“I knew this is what I was meant to do,” Hannigan said.
Just over a year ago, he opened Clutch City Squire at 410 Main – and the bar has quickly become a favorite neighborhood spot in downtown Houston.
“This may sound bad, but some of my earliest memories are being that kid who came from a large Irish family who would be running around in bars,” Hannigan said with a laugh.
Hannigan grew up in towns surrounding Boston and Cincinnati before ending up in Houston “on accident” in the early 1990s.
He began his career in the bar industry in earnest at Onion Creek in The Heights and moved on to Catbirds where he met and collaborated with Jenna Gleespen and Shane Amador to open Clutch City Squire.
“I had been looking for spots for five years, but I wasn’t satisfied with anything I found,” Hannigan said. “Everything was in a strip mall, or there was never enough parking. Then they opened OKRA and it dawned on me: downtown could be a great spot to open a bar.”
He moved his hunt closer to Market Square Park.
“There were all these beautiful old buildings, and not much being done with a good number of them,” Hannigan said. “It never quite made sense to me, when I moved here, how ignored downtown was. But I realized I'd become so used to that mentality, myself, that I'd never even thought to open up down here. I had always wanted an old brick building, and once I started scouting downtown, it took all of an hour and a half to find 410 Main.”
Hannigan said the bar is meant to reflect the spirit of the city – the great music, friendly people and fun-loving nature of Houston.
“I named the bar after the era of when I moved here – it was a great time to be in town, everyone was in a great mood and having a blast,” Hannigan said. “It’s personal to me – I love the town I stumbled into."
As for the house specialty – comfort and atmosphere are at the top of the menu. Hannigan wanted to create an easy-going atmosphere. He said Clutch City Squire is the type of place where you don’t have to worry about impressing the crowd.
“People talk about the must-haves at bars. Now, don’t get me wrong, we sell some good drinks – but the must-have at Clutch City is comfort,” Hannigan said. “You get off work, you want to un-tuck your shirt, relax and unwind. I want lawyers to hang out with bus boys and bankers to spend time with writers.”
While Clutch City Squire may show sports games, please don’t call it a sports bar, he added.
Instead, the bar thrives on special events – occurring throughout the week with happy hours, a variety of drink specials and exciting music.
“Everything important in life – happens in bars,” Hannigan said. “That’s where people make friends or you meet their future spouses. This is where it all happens. Bars arguably serve the largest variety of social -- and occasionally business -- needs in any given community.
Clutch City Squire is a fixture in the growing nightlife scene located near Market Square. Located at 410 Main St. on the first floor, the bar is open from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday and from 1 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sundays. For more information about Clutch City Squire’s events, follow the bar on Facebook, Twitter at @ClutchCityHTX or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.