Thursday, November 11, 2010

So, this is what a Down House is...

Well, I was wrong in my speculation about the new "club" going in on Yale- explaining why I never heard back from the pizza guy. Luckily, I did hear back from someone. Chris Cusack is a Houston native who is hoping to parlay his successes with 2 Austin coffee shops in to a new venture in the Heights. Here are some excerpts from Chris's email, giving more insight in to what, exactly, Down House will be:

About Down House

The idea is something like this: One-third of our product focus will be on great coffee, one-third on outstanding casual faire (sandwiches, salads, appetizers, gourmet bar snacks), and one-third on a great wine list, craft beers, and vintage, hand-crafted cocktails. We're planning on a dazzling Sunday brunch. It'll be a warm and casual environment with a sincere focus on hospitality and being a real cornerstone in the Heights community. Down House will be the kind of place where you can have a meeting with clients, catch up with friends, go on a date, or just get some work done. Down House will always be a family-friendly spot.

About Us

Joey (Chris's partner in the club) and I are both from Houston, and I actually attended Heights Montessori School (which used to be on Harvard) as a kiddo. I had a hamburger at Yale Pharmacy the other day, and I mentioned that I used to eat ice cream at the same counter when I was about four years old. She laughed and said that she'd been working there so long that she probably made one for me!

I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin and have since owned and operated two successful neighborhood coffee shops in Austin called Thunderbird Coffee. My deeply held beliefs on quality ingredients and great service have been strengthened since we opened several years ago. Our baristas can make a cappuccino that will blow your mind!

Joey and I have always wanted to create a place like Down House, but we never thought we would be so lucky to have a great space in such an amazing neighborhood. We plan on making our greatest effort to make Down House of the Heights and for the Heights.

About Club Down House

We are applying for a private club liquor license, but I really want to make it clear that Down House is not a bar. Again, the focus on that part of the program will be a strong wine list, delicious craft and local beers, and unique cocktails made with the best ingredients. The "club" part of the name on the sign refers to the non-profit status of the member-owned club (because that part of the Heights is dry) that will technically own the license and the alcohol. Down House, LLC will only manage the club.

Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Chris and I chatted a bit about the family friendly aspect and he is very open to suggestions on how it can be a place for some of you non-breeders to relax, while I can come along with my kids and enjoy food and drink as well. If you have (real, not snarky) opinions on how that can work, please post them! I do remember (sometimes fondly) the days before I was a mom and know that not everyone enjoys their company, but those people can also go drink in bars. And being a mom often means needing a drink.

One interesting point about being a private club in the dry area that I wasn't aware of: The law stipulates that the initial stock of alcohol MUST be bought by the members of the club. Because of this, Chris needs help and has something to offer in return.

Incidentally, we are looking for new members of the club to sign up and donate a $20 stocking fee to Club Down House. With every $20 donation (limit one per person!), we are offering a $25 gift certificate to Down House. I would love to have some of your readers on board.

So, if you're interested you can email me about it and I'll be sure Chris gets your name and contact information.


  1. The "family friendly" part really should not be hard if a little common sense is employed. Like, children don't get to run around the place at top speed, a screaming toddler needs to be taken out to the sidewalk and calmed down, etc. I see lots of well-behaved kids - and kids having a bad day with parents who take the situation in hand - all over town, and it's just fine.

    It's when kids are throwing things, screaming, etc. and the parents ignore it that people get annoyed (justifiably) - and of course, those are the kids that people remember. Not fair but such is life.

    I think a good policy for any establishment is that disruptive people of ALL ages will be asked to leave!

    I can't wait for this place to open, it sounds great.

  2. I think Berry Hill is an excellent example of peaceful commingling of those with and without children. I think making an area of the "club" especially child-friendly (color, decor, child-sized tables, whatever) will draw the families there, leaving the other parts of the "club" to those sans kiddos. Berry Hill, possibly inadvertently, did this and I think it works quite nicely!

  3. I don't understand why the name Down House was chosen. Maybe it's just that my generation overused the word "downer" (meaning something that is unpleasant). It sure sounds depressing. Just a constructive criticism. No malice intended.

  4. I can't wait! Where is it going to be exactly? In the temporary Compass bank building? I agree with the previous post about Berry Hill, some sort of seperation. Tonys Mexican does it too, when we have kids they march us to the back or in a booth most of the time. Tell him I'll post on our Oak Forest blog when he opens...

  5. Jen- Here is the previous post with more info!

  6. Can't wait, this will be a great venue. I heard Duchesne Parents, Troy and Vanessa Derks are involved. Very excited.

  7. Is the name Down House in reference to Charles Darwin? That is the name of his estate in England.