Last week, the Dallas coffee scene got a tiny new addition: a solar-powered Houndstooth Coffee shop at Walnut Hill Lane and Central Expressway.
The cafe is in what are essentially two tiny houses designed by Lake Flato, an Austin/San Antonio company that specializes in sustainable architecture. In the main tiny house is the cafe, where customers can get single-origin espresso, pastries and breakfast tacos from TacoDeli. Across a small patio is a second building, dubbed the "Schoolhouse," where diners post up with laptops to work in a quiet room. It also doubles as a space that can be rented for events.
The materials used to build the cafe — windows, countertops, etc. — came from neighboring TreeHouse, "the world’s first energy positive big-box store," according to a press release. Soon, both the shop and TreeHouse will offer eight Tesla supercharging stations.
For Houndstooth, which has five cafes from Austin to Dallas, three in Big D, this new shop is a departure from the norm.
"For one thing, this is our first standalone spot, which is fun," Houndstooth owner Sean Henry said. (The other two Dallas locations are in Sylvan Thirty and a strip of retail on Henderson Avenue.) "The whole space as you walk up and go inside just has a great feel. From the wood floor that flows onto the walls to the rainbow wall to all the sunlight pouring in all sides, we wanted to bring the outdoors in.
"We hope the result is that our guests feel energized not just by the coffee, but by the space itself," Henry says.
"Sure, it's on a highway and it is small, but the way it sits on the hill on that northeast corner is amazing."
Inside the Lake Flato-designed space, visitors will find thoughtful touches such as a Mavam Espresso machine. The under-the-counter machine offers "guests greater visibility into the drink preparation process and a better platform for barista-to-guest interaction," according to a press release.
In a city that loves the big and the bold, the new Walnut Hill Houndstooth proves that innovation sometimes means scaling down.
"If I learned anything from watching busy cafes in NYC, it's that you can do a lot of business in a small amount of space," Henry says. "Tiny design always has limitations, but just because it's small, doesn't mean it can't be everything you need. Sure, it has its challenges, but we're feeling good about our storage and efficient bar flow."
Across the parking lot, the new home supply store TreeHouse is slinging "sustainable home upgrades" such as rainwater collection barrels, smart home accessories and electric lawn equipment. In order to be part of the TreeHouse complex, Houndstooth committed to using sustainable materials and to powering its entire operation using solar energy. In an industry constantly struggling to produce less waste, Henry wants to continue in that mindset to make all of his cafes a little more sustainable.
"We are talking with TreeHouse about ways to reduce our carbon footprint across all cafes," Henry says. "They're a great resource for lots of sustainable products and practices we didn't even know existed."
Despite the space constraints, diners will find Houndstooth's standard menu offerings, including Japanese-style cold brew and seasonal drinks like the current rhum nut and cinnamon spice cappuccinos. It may be a small cafe, but with sustainable design and green energy practices, it's a big step for the Dallas coffee scene.
Houndstooth Coffee, 9730 N. Central Expressway. Open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.