When Brian Sandel first opened Creekwood Grill in 2018, he sought to create a space where families could gather and connect. Now, after five years of the restaurant’s success, Sandel carries on Creekwood’s tradition as a hub for the community by opening a hangout spot for the adults.
Situated next door to Creekwood Grill, it’s apparent that P.O.’s Ice House is more than just an average neighborhood bar. Besides its variety of spirit selections and laid-back vibe, P.O.’s also pays homage to decades of local history. Although the building began as a grocery and feed store in the 1940s, it is most notable for becoming the site of P.O.’s Burgers, one of the first restaurants in the Cypress area.
“That building has meant something to people in Cypress for decades now,” said Sandel, owner of P.O.’s Ice House and Creekwood Grill. “The history of that was not lost to me.”
Established by the Dahl family in the 1980s, P.O.’s Burgers became a staple for hosting school team parties, lunch outings and other gatherings. Sandel hopes to continue the former restaurant’s legacy by establishing P.O.’s Ice House and Creekwood Grill as a premier destination for local residents.
“It’s important that we not only understand that legacy, but we do something that continues it,” he said.
Through detailed renovations and refurbishing, Sandel and his team went to great lengths to bring the building back to life. Housed in the original P.O.’s Burgers’ dining room, the structure possesses the original 80-year-old oak wood floors and is decorated with antiques that complement the ambiance. This includes a bar top crafted from old barn timbers, stamped tin from a 100-year-old house and decorative walls of reclaimed cedar from the property.
“We wanted to make something that was really nice, and that people would enjoy hanging out in, but also gave a very casual and comfortable vibe because that’s similar to Creekwood,” he said.
While Creekwood Grill offers a large outdoor area for kids as well as an indoor stage for live music and events, Sandel says P.O.’s Ice House is meant to be the “playground” for adults. For ages 21 and up, P.O.’s models other Texas Icehouses that feature a casual indoor atmosphere and large sliding doors to the outside.
“We realized that there was a niche in the market that was being underserved, and that was 21 and up,” he said. “We had this awesome space that we weren’t using, and we had a segment of our customer base that we knew we were kind of missing out on.”
Although attached to Creekwood Grill, Sandel wanted a few things to set P.O.’s Ice House apart. While Creekwood is known for its list of 40 draft beers, P.O.’s offers elevated spirit offerings, such as luxury bourbon, whiskey, tequila and upper-tier wells. Of course, P.O.’s still provides an extensive selection for the beer drinkers.
“We’re always exploring new options, trying new things and looking at new brands, but we wanted to elevate the cocktail experience on the P.O. side since it’s our playground for grownups,” he said. “We wanted to offer something that might be a step above what they would get anywhere else.”
In addition to beverages, there is no fear of going hungry. Although not serving the full course meals available at Creekwood, the menu still provides plenty of snacks and bar food, including cowboy nachos, queso, spinach artichoke dip and even Creekwood’s famous smoked wings. Only available at the P.O. side, customers can also find an assortment of flatbreads with flavors such BBQ Chicken, Mediterranean and Pepperoni.
While P.O.’s name honors its predecessor, Sandel adds that calling it “Ice House” was also intentional. Historically, Texas Icehouses were local convenience stores where people could purchase ice or other essentials. While they are no longer used for their original purpose, they still remain centers for community gatherings.
“We’re a business, but we also want to be a business that provides something for the community, and having a place to gather is important,” he said.