If the wildly successful pre-opening parties are any indication, Postino WineCafé in Montrose is poised to rock the neighborhood in similar tradition as its predecessors rocked convention during 36 years of a singularly gay focus. Where the Montrose Mining Company left off after closing in 2016, Postino is picking up but with a wide-open rainbow coalition focus and an appreciative nod to the past.
Don’t call this a gay wine bar. Never mind that the location has embodied numerous gay-centric business incarnations. This Montrose outpost of the Phoenix, Arizona, mothership, Houston’s second Postino, is geared for everyone in the neighborhood. It’s a beautiful and delicious cauldron of diversity for all, perched across the street from rocking gay bar South Beach.
The all-day wine cafe’s launch in Houston came in the spring of 2018 in the Heights Mercantile development, where Postino’s introduction of $5 wine from 11 am to 5 pm quickly established it as one of the more popular spots in a neighborhood teeming with bars and restaurants.
Postino founder Lauren Bailey was in from Phoenix for the launch weekend of the Montrose location at 805 Pacific and she detailed the philosophy behind the Postino concept to PaperCity.
“We’ve always been really focused on finding older buildings and doing adaptive reuse within them . . . We really know and believe that these buildings vibrate at a higher frequency,” Bailey says. “They have a story to tell. They have this past.”
That past is celebrated across the entire back wall of Postino Montrose where vintage photographs and news articles reflect the building’s colorful history. Bailey and her business partner, Craig DeMarco, researched the building’s past, learning that it had hosted The Tattooed Lady, Pacific Street Station and Uncle Charlie’s before becoming the Montrose Mining Company, said to be, at 36 years, the longest running gay bar in the city.
“Gay bars are not really opening up anymore because young people don’t need to go to a gay bar and meet another gay person because they can go anywhere they want and hold hands and be together. And that’s awesome,” Bailey notes. “But I also think it’s important to remember how the road was paved. And that’s what we get excited about.
“And that’s why the wall’s there and why we were excited to take the space.”
Excitement was at a fever pitch in Postino Montrose on Friday night when all of the 103 dining seats, most of the 24 bar seats and a good number of the 70 seats on the covered patio were filled. Guests grazed through the surprisingly wallet-friendly menu that includes delish bruschetta offerings such as prosciutto with figs and mascarpone and ricotta with dates and pistachios, plus crave-worthy meatballs, shareable charcuterie boards, paninis and salads. And who can beat the $5 glasses of wine or the $5 pitchers of beer offered from opening until 5 pm?
“I can’t believe that we got to inherit this space and honor the past,” Bailey says of the project that took 20 months to complete. That effort included going to great lengths to preserve and restore the thousands of bricks that cover the building.
“Picking these jewel box sites and these spaces that are old and are so iconic, it’s so important for all cities,” Bailey tells PaperCity. “Oftentimes, it’s more financially viable to tear these buildings down and put up a high-rise.”
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