Koe Wetzel’s Riot Room, a restaurant with a country-rock look and bottle service, has opened in Fort Worth.
The Riot Room is part-owned by Koe Wetzel, the musician known for country songs “Wasted,” “Drunk Driving” and “Good Die Young.” He was raised a little over two hours east of Dallas in the small town of Pittsburg, then got famous on a new-school brand of outlaw country. “Koe Wetzel may be the next big thing in Texas country music,” The Dallas Morning News wrote in 2017 as his star was beginning to rise. The headline goes on: “If not? ‘Screw everybody else,’ he says.”
“I think that quote still holds pretty true,” Wetzel said by phone this week.
Wetzel missed opening weekend at the Riot Room in mid-March 2023 because he was on tour in the Midwest. He plans to make visits to the Fort Worth bar when he’s in town; he lives in Weatherford.
“You’ll see me in and out of there,” he says. “You never know when.”
It was bar owner Emil Bragdon’s idea to open the Riot Room, and he partnered with five others. He describes the Riot Room as “country clubby,” where DJs spin a mix of country, rap and hip-hop.
You know, “your usual fun songs that everybody likes to dance to and get drunk to,” Wetzel says.
Bragdon loves that Wetzel has a built-in fanbase for bar-goers in the West 7th district in Fort Worth.
The two met at the venue in 2022. “People were walking by going, ‘Oh look, it’s Koe Wetzel,’” Bragdon says. So, Wetzel, a showman, worked the crowd. “‘Hey, guys, what do you think about me building a bar right here?’” he asked them.
And so he did.
Riot Room is next to Junk Punch, a bowling and games bar also from Bragdon’s company. He has three others within walking distance: a house party themed bar called Your Mom’s House, a club with a swimming pool called Whiskey Garden, and sports bar Reservoir. A second Reservoir is at Irving’s Toyota Music Factory.
Wetzel got to name a few dishes on the Riot Room menu. The chicken-fried steak is called Kuntry & Wistern Fried Steak, and the beer-can chicken is the Chicken Farmer. The menu also includes a brisket grilled cheese with a side of brisket queso that the menu calls a hangover remedy. And there are two versions of a cheeseburger, plus snacks like fried pickles and jalapeño-cheddar cornbread.
Bragdon says dinner has been “steadily full.” Then they ratchet up the energy for late-night. But Wetzel fans might want to arrive early:
“Pretty much every day we’re open, there’s a line to get in,” he says. “I had a guest drive from four hours away to come eat there. It was wild.”
Much of the fervor is about the guy whose name is on the building.
“I feel like I just opened a Disneyland for adults,” Bragdon says.
Koe Wetzel’s Riot Room is at 1100 Foch St., Fort Worth. It opened March 16, 2023.