Houndstooth's Sean Henry is Investing in Dallas Coffee Culture

The baristas at Houndstooth Coffee have been serving cups at Sylvan Thirty for just more than two weeks now, but this isn’t just a simple expansion from the popular Henderson Avenue spot, which opened in 2014.

“Austin was our first one, so [we] learned a lot along the way, and this one's similar in that it’s a big project for us; we're kind of doing stuff we haven’t done before," says Sean Henry, the owner of Houndstooth Coffee. "So it felt just as epic, so to speak, as the first time."

Houndstooth's other locations have been fairly straightforward coffee joints. This time around, they’re working on a kitchen, which they plan to put into use soon, and a cocktail bar they hope to open in the fall. But what Henry is really pushing toward is a new environment for coffee drinkers.

“It’s what we’re calling kind of a nonlinear design … There’s kind of the front side, where that person’s getting your coffee if you want to get in and out, but if you want to stand with the barista, you can chit-chat, or head out, or you can just sit down at the bar and chill out with us,” Henry says. “So it allows different types of moments to happen, different types of guest experiences all around one bar.”

With this new coffee shop backing up to Tacodeli, and Austin's JuceLand opening soon in the same development, this little corner of West Dallas is becoming home to some of Austin's most beloved franchises. 

Houndstooth has the usual suspects on the coffee menu with an expensive espresso machine and pour-over coffee. The interior design is a clean and modern look, with a couple of mid-century touches. One wall bears Houndstooth’s mission statement, “The Pattern of Coffee and People.”

The new space in this part of the Sylvan Thirty development provided the perfect opportunity to start experimenting with more food and a different structure with the coffee shop, Henry says.

“It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a long time, and this is our first space since our first store that we’ve done from a blank slate,” he said. “With this one, we said, hey, this something we’ve been wanting to do for a while; we don’t want to keep doing the same old things, we want to push ourselves.”

Henry, who now calls Dallas home, says that opening a second location in the city was a step that made sense. 

“Basically, Dallas just hasn’t had as many coffee shops, local, non-Starbucks, options for a long time, and so Dallas is still getting used to the way coffee shops work, or just the idea that people would go and hang out, see people,” he says. “Whereas a city like Austin that has had a cafe culture for a long time, we knew that we were going to have to be a part of building that here.

"This is a chance to say, yeah," he says, "this is our Dallas cafe.”

Houndstooth, 1878 Sylvan Ave.
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Taylor Adams has written about the restaurant industry for the Dallas Observer since 2016. Now the Observer's food editor, she attended Southern Methodist University before covering local news at The Dallas Morning News.