Galveston’s newest nightlife entertainment complex is a 3-in-1 destination featuring Mob Bar, Mango’s Beach Club, and Maze Nightclub.
From Gail Borden’s condensed milk to Russo’s Pizzeria, Galveston has long been an incubator where innovative minds have so flourished that eventually the island can no longer contain their ingenuity, and these forward-thinking creations and concepts inevitably go on to find a nationwide audience.
Brian “BO$$” Cohen, owner and originator of Galveston’s newest hotspot, is poised to make Mob Bar the next name on that list—while also providing the city’s lackluster nightlife scene with an intense infusion of excitement and originality.
A native of Queens, New York, Cohen opened the first location of his mobster-themed night spot in Los Angeles in February 2020. It was the next in a long series of lucrative career moves for Brian that spanned a multitude of industries and cities all over the country, but within a month of opening, he was forced to close and reevaluate his plans. The original strategy was to open bars in the major cities—L.A., New York, Chicago, Miami—and then expand into smaller markets.
But the pandemic changed everything. “Now I’m trying to work my way backwards,” he explains. “Since the protocols are much stricter in the major cities, I chose to go to states that are open like Texas and Iowa, and then we plan on working our way back to those major markets.”
Galveston’s eclectic mix of local and visiting demographics was a perfect fit for Cohen’s vision, which expanded significantly when he happened upon a vacant building on the corner of 26th and Mechanic. “I don’t really believe in one big club,” says Cohen, who started in the nightlife businesses as a bartender and has worked every position from MC to promoter, marketer, manager, consultant, and owner. Instead, he envisioned a place that could appeal to all different ages and personalities.
Although the building was most recently the home of Havana Alley cigar bar, the business prior to Havana was a two-part concept with a bar called Granite Room on one side and a popular nightclub called Voodoo Lounge on the other.
This provided a unique canvas for Cohen to establish a full-fledged entertainment complex, but he took it one step further and not only established Mob Bar on one side and Maze nightclub on the other but also Mango’s Beach Club in the outdoor space at the rear.
“The goal was to create a one-of-a-kind location for Galveston,” Cohen explains. “You have a suave, more mature, 1930s speakeasy, but ten feet away there is a Jimmy Buffett-style beach bar with daiquiris. Then you go another ten feet, and you have a full, age 18 & up nightclub with five rooms and big-name DJs from Miami and L.A".
As an organizer who has worked on more than 300 nightlife projects in 40 North American cities, Cohen’s big picture vision is to expand the offerings in Galveston while also raising the standard of local nightlife.
“I have that big city mentality,” he says. “I’ve seen it all, locations around the world, I get it. And I am trying to bring that to Galveston.”
His impressive résumé includes Boss Sports Cards, a buy/flip sports card business he started when he was ten years old; a Sports Betting Consulting Company called Baseball Investments & Sports Money Machine; and a nod on the list of the Top 100 Businessmen in Las Vegas in 2014.
He was also the marketing mastermind behind “Made Monday,” a weekly event at a club in Hollywood, California, that he describes as the “biggest Monday night party in the history of nightlife.” Made Mondays ran for three years and was attended by a number of A-list celebrities such as Lebron James and Floyd Mayweather.
However, there is more than grandiosity to Cohen’s Galveston endeavors. He started working as a bookie at age seventeen and has what he calls an “interesting” family.
“I’ve seen a lot, I have seen some crazy stuff growing up in Queens,” he admits, and his early experiences were a major source of inspiration behind the Mob Bar concept.
The theme entertains the entire gamut of organized crime aficionados, featuring both fictional and real-life characters from Scarface to Lucky Luciano, set against a sultry, relaxed atmosphere that draws in visitors with personalized service and a complimentary “blood bath” shot.
Cohen’s concept was further ingratiated by the history of his newest Mob Bar location. “Upon doing research and learning the history, that was what really drew me to the building,” he says.
Built in 1955 towards the end of the “Free State of Galveston” era, it was originally a “hotel” which was in actuality a brothel that eluded the raids of 1957 and remained operational until 1992. This historic morsel creates a curious cohesion between the bar’s history and Galveston history, adding a subtle aura of mystery and allure.
As a tribute to Galveston’s heyday of vice during the first half of the 20th century, pictures of several local characters grace the walls of Mob Bar including the enchantingly debonair image of Salvatore “Sam” Maceo, Galveston’s consummate nightlife host during the “free state” days.
Although unrecognizable to most mainlanders, Sam stands out among the sea of infamous faces, his kind smile and palpable panache radiating from the framed portrait as a reminder that technically, he was not a mobster, but close enough.
With the historical perspective firmly in place, Brian sought next to establish the club’s modern voice. “I wanted a local guy. I’m a big city guy, but Charlie knows Galveston business, he knows Texas business,” Cohen says of Charlie Bunn, his General Manager.
“As soon as we met, we had immediate chemistry,” he continues. “He is very different and very talented, and we connected. I said, ‘This is the guy!’”
That difference is an obvious enthusiasm for his work tempered only by the effortless air of welcoming hospitality that Charlie carries throughout the club. A computer programmer prior to meeting Cohen, the Houston native is also veteran of the service industry who grew up visiting Galveston. Since moving to the island several years ago, Bunn has come to know the island community well and shares Brian’s eagerness to bring a totally new concept to Galveston.
“We don’t have anything like this,” Charlie says as he tours the complex, excitedly pointing out both the work they have done so far and their plans for the immediate and distant future.
“We are the only club in town that does bottle service. You get the bottle, you get the room,” he says inside Maze’s VIP room, one of several rooms that line the hallway of the old hotel turned nightclub.
The main dance floor is flanked by a standalone bar, while multiple video screens, laser lighting, and an enormous backlit fan coalesce for an ultimate party destination.
Over at Mob Bar, Bunn explains that it is a simple concept centered primarily around a specialty cocktail menu and of course, an underground ambiance delicately punctuated by a playlist of Rat Pack-era crooners.
“Oh, and I have a bottle of Jack Daniels for anyone who can name all of the people on the wall,” he says daringly.
Outside at Mango’s, the vibe shifts yet again. Tiki torches blaze against the starry night sky, softly illuminating the brightly colored barstools and canvas awnings. It is a perfectly picturesque backdrop for beach tunes, cold beer, and a friendly game of cornhole.
Charlie also shares elements of their plans to improve and expand the different clubs. “We are going to get the fountain working,” he says of the water feature installed during the Voodoo lounge days.
“We have all new furniture and more on the way, we are going to get more TVs, we are upgrading the sound system. Outside, we want to add palapas, umbrellas, fans, and an evaporative cooling system.”
Inside Mob Bar, they have already remodeled Havana’s cigar humidor into a game room, and he hopes the bar’s vintage piano will soon find a musician to provide live entertainment. A wall of history dedicated to Galveston’s Open Era is also in the works.
“We’re building something,” says Cohen of his and Charlie’s monumental efforts. “We are looking beyond, but Galveston is the perfect place for us right now. This is one of the most unique cities in the country.”
Mob Bar, Mango’s, & Maze are located at 201 26th Street. For more information visit www.MobBarInc.com/Galveston. Follow on Facebook and Instagram for schedule updates and additions.
Mob Bar: Tues-Sat 6pm-2am, Sun 12-8pm
Maze Nightclub: Thurs. 6pm-12am, Friday 6pm-2am, Sat 12pm-2am, Sun 12-8pm
Mango’s Beach Club: Thurs & Fri 6pm-2am, Sun 12-8pm (patio accessible when other clubs are open)
Vegas Tuesdays at Mob Bar
$1 Spin of the Wheel, $3 Wells, $15 Domestic Buckets (6)
August 6, 13, 27 - Maze, After Hours, 1am-?
August 5, 6, 13, 19, 26, & 27 - Maze, DJ Eduardo Salvador
August 7 - Mangos, KP Productions
August 8, 15, 22 & 29 - Mob Bar, Jimmy Fingers Magic & Mind Reading
August 12 - Mob Bar, Keith Smith
August 13, September 3 & 17 - Mangos, Britney Doyle
August 14 - Maze, Foam Party
August 28 - Maze, Drag Show (day), Maze, Loony Bin Presents
September 10 - Maze, Afton Events Local Artist showcase