With a presidential election near, it's vital we educate ourselves on the issues most important to us. The stakes are higher than ever, and it's important that we surround ourselves with individuals of all kinds and work together to accomplish our political goals.
Yes, we're still in the food section of the Observer.
At Alexandre’s in Oak Lawn, Lee Daugherty creates an environment where people can freely vocalize their thoughts on today’s political climate and educate themselves on how they can build a better future for Dallas and/or America.
Daugherty first opened Alexandre’s in November 2004, while seeking a complete change in his career.
“I had spent a number of years in telecom,” Daugherty says. “With the tumultuous-ness of the industry, I always made the joke that by the end of the crash of telecom, it would be cheaper to buy a bar than to pay our bar tabs. I was looking for something new to do. I never worked in the service industry before, but bars always interested me, so I cashed out of my company and bought a bar.”
As for the name Alexandre’s, well, Daugherty really can’t give you a straight answer on the origin.
“When anyone’s opening a business, unless they are just flush with cash, you’ve got to sometimes take creative efforts to curb expenses. Alexander’s existed here a couple of months before I bought it. There’s a story I’ve heard that it’s named after one of the old manager’s godsons and that the letters were rearranged to save money. I hear that the Alexander that it’s named after is doing well, but I’m happy that we were able to save money on the sign by swapping letters around.”
Alexandre’s has the feel of an small, old jazz club. It has a shotgun layout where guests can try many craft cocktails (made with many mixers Daugherty makes himself).
In the back is a stage, where local singers such as Chris Chism and Vero Voz perform on a weekly basis. The stage is also graced every Tuesday with local actors and performers for Alexandre’s Broadway on a Tuesday series. Daugherty believes this allows local actors to expose themselves to a new type of crowd.
“A lot of this framework is held over from the previous jazz club that was here,” Daugherty says. “When I took it, I guess I had just been in the suit-and-tie corporate world for so long. I wanted to create a nice place, not just for those in suits and ties, but for everyone. We celebrate the ’20s and ’30s because that time was an interesting era for cocktails. It was a dark time in the country but revolutionary in the making of cocktails. We like to celebrate the good and the bad.”
In addition to owning a history-centered bar, Daugherty is involved in several local political organizations. Such organizations include Take Back Oak Lawn, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and Democratic Socialists of America.
“I’m sure there are others,” Daugherty says. “It’s been a busy last five years.”
Since Alexandre’s is located in Dallas’ gayborhood, Daugherty believes that the bar’s frequenters should find some way to get involved with the community. Alexandre’s often hosts debate watch events and hosts activists and local politicians as speakers. He's also made the space available to start neighborhood block walks for campaigns.
“I believe that everyone,” Daugherty says, “especially in such a neighborhood like Oak Lawn, needs to find a way to, at the minimum, pay attention to what’s going on and maybe find an organization to get involved with.”
If you scroll through Daugherty’s Facebook or Twitter feeds, you’ll find he's passionate about several issues. Notably, he is a vocal critic of a high-rise project set to begin construction upon the Eatzi’s location on Oak Lawn and Lemmon, after the Dallas City Council approved extra height for it last week.
“Oak Lawn sees a lot of density,” Daugherty says. “We’ve seen tons of construction, especially the District 14 side of Uptown and the Turtle Creek corridor.
“We saw this high-rise project from day one. The precedent set by City Council is a bit concerning, but I wouldn’t say that I’m opposed 100% to this project. But I am genuinely concerned, because we already have three high-rises planned. This is going to get very interesting along the horizon.”
Regardless of political affiliation, sexuality, race or creed, Daugherty encourages anyone to come into Alexandre’s and engage in political discourse (and have a drink).
“Everyone sits at the same level at the bar and gets the same service and drinks,” Daugherty says. “The bar is an equalizer of society. I think that really needs to be focused on, and we try to focus on that here at Alexandre's.”
Alexandre's, 4026 Cedar Springs Road (Oak Lawn). Open 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday; noon to 2 a.m. Sunday.