Mike Raymond is the founder of Reserve 101, a premier whiskey bar and cocktail lounge located in Downtown Houston. Capitalizing on 10+ years of experience in the restaurant and bar industry,Raymond founded Reserve 101 with childhood friend Steve Long in 2008. Through a steady climb to success, Reserve 101 is known today for its internationally acclaimed whiskey selection–the largest in Texas –along with an extensive range of Texas spirits and beers, niche cocktail offerings and location right across from the House of BluesHouston.
Born in Massachusetts and raised in New York and New Jersey, Raymond graduated from the Atlanta College of Art with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1997. He first entered the restaurant industry by working at Jocks & Jills, a restaurant in Atlanta owned by former professional athletes. He worked as a bartender and soon managed each of the restaurant’s eight different locations for three years. Raymond went on to work at Santa Fe Café in Decatur as bar manager, as well as with Aramark in Atlanta’s Turner Field.
Raymond moved to Houston in 2000. His expertise in bartending led him to a career with Champs American Grill.After three years there, he went on to work at Dave & Busters and then Downtown Houston’sStrip House in 2005. He continued to bartend as well as manage orders and inventory. Soon enough, he began thinking about starting his own bar. As Houston already had an established market for wine and beer, Raymond decided to look into whiskey bars. After several years of hard work and planning, his vision became a reality, and Reserve 101 was born. Though things began with a somewhat rough start due to the economy, business soon picked up after the openings of the House of Blues and other nearby restaurant and entertainment venues in the adjacent Pavilions(now GreenStreet). Reserve 101 caters to a diverse audience—from business owners and judges to musicians and Houston Rockets staffers. Notable visitors have included musicians The Killers, Arctic Monkeys and Shakira;Oscar winning actor Sean Penn; basketball Hall of Famer Charles Barkley andNBA superstarKobe Bryant;UFC president Dana White; and Houston Texans star Andre Johnson. The bar has won numerous awards and is known for its unpretentious, no-frills atmosphere but also simply as a unique destination for scotch, monthly wine selections, exotic martinis and whiskey tastings.