Inside the loop, locally-owned coffee shops are a familiar sight. If the line at Blacksmith is too long, just keep rolling to Southside Espresso, Fix Coffeebar, Siphon Coffee, Inversion Coffee, etc. Last week, a new business opened that wants to bring some of that inner loop atmosphere to the Bellaire triangle.
Dandelion Cafe aims to make a strong first impression with Bellaire and Meyerland residents by serving locally-roasted Greenway Coffee (roasted by the same company that operates Blacksmith and Morningstar, among others), pastries from Weights + Measures, and bagels from New York Bagels. In addition to prepared items from other places, owner Sarah Lieberman has crafted a menu of sandwiches, salads, and breakfast items that give the cafe an all-day utility.
Lieberman arrived in Houston from Philadelphia four years ago. Although she quickly discovering that a career in oil and gas didn’t suit her — “I’m not made to sit in an office,” she says — she fell in love with the city’s food scene and decided to stay: first working for a catering company and now as a business owner.
“Houston has really surprised me,” Lieberman says. “I loved the food in Philly. I came to Houston. I was, like, holy shit, the food in Houston is awesome. The amount of international food is great.”
Located next to Bernie’s Burger Bus, the space has a rustic charm with exposed ceilings, concrete floors, and tables that Lieberman made herself. It should serve both area residents who want a latte on the way to work and as an after-school gathering spot for Bellaire High School students.
The food menu features three cold sandwiches of egg salad, turkey, and a vegan roasted vegetable and three panini, including a roast pork that’s a nod to Lieberman’s Philly roots. Salads and juices round out the menu. Eventually, the cafe will add smoothies, as well as beer, wine, and cheese plates.
Dandelion Cafe also allows Lieberman to utilize the barista skills she first developed in college. Other members of her staff have worked at various coffee shops around town, including Tout Suite.
“It’s what I loved all during college,” Lieberman says about working in coffee. “Kind of like being a bartender, you have your regulars. You talk to them. You get to know them. Everyone is always happy to see you. As soon as people get their coffee, (they say), ‘I’m so happy to get my coffee.’”
Ultimately, Lieberman says she’d like to own a few flower-themed cafes in different parts of the Houston area, but, for now, she’s concentrating on making sure Dandelion gets a little better every day. Only a week in, business is building slowly but steadily. As word of mouth spreads, she’s already starting to recognize regulars.
“The first day was a lot of people I knew. I made $20 more on Tuesday, and it was less people I knew and more people I didn’t know,” she says. "On Wednesday, I only had a few people I know and a few repeats. I’ve increased about $20 a day. It isn’t a lot, but it’s great.”