Ever since Blacksmith Coffee Bar’s impending opening was announced last year, foodies and coffee connoisseurs throughout the city have been clamoring to get a look at the latest project from David Buehrer of Greenway Coffee Co. and Anvil co-owner-turned-lower-Westheimer-restaurateur Bobby Heugel.
Now, the time has finally come for Blacksmith’s debut. Scaffolding has been removed from the Westheimer and Waugh facades of the former Mary’s space, replaced by floor-to-ceiling windows. When CultureMap visited the site on Wednesday, kitchen equipment was being delivered. According to Buehrer, contractors will be out of the space by Friday and he aims to be open for business by Jan. 1.
According to Buehrer, contractors will be out of the space by Friday and he’s expecting to be open for business the first week of January.
Buehrer and Heugel had known that the Mary’s space was perfect for a coffee shop for years, but never imagined that the opportunity would arise to purchase it. Not only did the iconic Montrose bar become available last year, but it also happened to be located right next to the site of Heugel’s next venture, Underbelly and Hay Merchant.
“There’s been a ton of thought that has gone into building this space,” Buehrer explained. “At Greenway, we didn’t have the opportunity to build from the ground up – most other coffee shops don’t have that opportunity either. But here, we’ve been able to design this space exactly how we wanted it.”
As we toured the space, Buehrer explained that Blacksmith is divided into three different sections: a sit-down area for coffee and food, an enthusiast bar, and a large to-go counter for expedited pastry and coffee orders. At the 10-seat enthusiast bar, one of Blacksmith’s most unique features, customers will be able to immerse themselves in an full-fledged coffee experience, complete with specialized food pairings that are unavailable in the rest of the cafe.
The interior will be characterized by the same rustic-meets-minimalist aesthetic on display at Underbelly and Anvil, including the same steel tables and ceilings. The interior trappings of Mary’s were removed to reveal 1950’s era brick walls and concrete floors.
Behind the enthusiast bar, everything the baristas need will be directly in front of them, allowing them to interact with customers as they work instead of turning around. It’s attention to detail that can make or break a cup of coffee – or a coffee shop – and Buehrer is sparing nothing. A complex water filtration system will allow complete control over things like TDS (total dissolved solids) and alakalinity to ensure that the water being used to make espresso and coffee beverages is as pure as possible.
“Just look at this intersection – and its only eleven o’clock on a Wednesday. Imagine what you’ll be able to see by just staring outside of these windows.”
For those who are less concerned with the technicalities of their coffee, Blacksmith will offer an impressive food program. Under the guidance of consulting chef Erin Smith, who has worked under Mario Batali as well as Thomas Keller at his three-Michelin-star winning restaurant Per Se, Blacksmith will feature a comprehensive breakfast and lunch menu.
Highlights will include a Vietnamese interpretation of steak and eggs, croque madame and croque monsieur, house-made yogurt and granola, and according to Buehrer, “a ridiculously good biscuit.”
Beyond serving the best cup of coffee in town and seriously good food, Buehrer hopes that Blacksmith will serve as a nexus of community for lower Westheimer.
“In my mind, there was no other place to do what I want to do here. I may do other concepts in the future, but for this concept, there was no other location,” Buehrer said. “Just look at this intersection – and its only 11 o’clock on a Wednesday. Imagine what you’ll be able to see by just staring outside of these windows.”
When asked about other local coffee shops who have forgone offering customers Wi-Fi and electrical outlets, Buehrer laughed, stating that Blacksmith will have Wi-Fi. "When I need to sit down at one of these tables to work on paperwork, I'm going to need Wi-Fi."
Buehrer and the rest of his team will continue to operate Greenway Coffee Co. in Greenway Plaza, in addition to roasting coffee and consulting on preparation for Eatsie Boys, Paulie's, Revival Market and a handful of other local restaurants.