If All Goes According to Plan (Commission), Deep Ellum Will Be Bursting With New Joints

While perusing the City Plan Commission agenda for Thursday I stumbled across some further good new for Deep Ellum: Two more joints are inching closer to opening on Elm Street, both right across the street from Trees. Actually, it's three if you include Crickets, the Chicago-style deli Mike McMeans hopes to open "in probably three weeks," he tells Unfair Park today. (McMeans says he got got his certificate of occupancy this very morning, matter of fact.) No, wait -- it's four, if you include The Vault, which is the proposed name for the venue that may or may not take over the former Articles space.

But back to Thursday's CPC meeting. Both venues, each awaiting their specific use permits from the city, are on the south side of Elm Street just west of Crowdus Street. One is Gabe Sanchez's 1,080-square-foot bar in the space occupied a long time ago by The Thin Room. From the looks of his paperwork, Sanchez has live music in mind -- though where he'd fit a stage in that teensy joint remains a mystery. (I've left several messages for him this morning.)

The other is Stephanie Houston's LaGrange, which, according to its documentation filed with the city, will take over all 2,744 square feet of the former Cafe Istanbul. Houston, a University of Texas at Austin grad who sold her medical-staffing firm Platinum Select last year, tells Unfair Park that her joint is modeled after two in Austin: the Continental Club and La Condesa.

"It's Texas-meets-modern," she says of LaGrange. "The whole theme is Texas-based; it's really specific. We put a lot of thought into the concept and into the music and the whole creation of the event calendar and drink menu. I think it'll really be a knock-out."

Houston's a Dallas native -- Skyline grad, matter of fact, who lived down in Deep Ellum for a couple of years following graduation. She says she was down there when the neighborhood was "really booming," and she figured that after selling her business now might be a good time to do "something fun." Initially, she looked into taking over the Club Dada space, but settled on the old Istanbul: "I picked up the phone to see what rent was," she says. "I've had a lot of business success, and I thought, 'Let's give this a go.'"

As you can see from LaGrange's Facebook page, they've already started demolishing the site in hopes of a late November opening. But Houston says December's a more realistic date, given that "getting a permit from the city is a lengthy process." She stretches out the word "lengthy." Then laughs.

"I am not a bartender opening a bar," she says. "I am business owner opening up a business. We've really thougt it out from top to bottom. We've already got corporate events lined up, and and the place still looks like a disaster. But that's my forte. ... I want you to talk walk in and go, 'Wow, this is nice. Wow, this place rocks.'"

After both venues go through the CPC, where they're expected to get their SUP approvals, they'll go before the city council. We'll update accordingly.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky