A favorite Montrose bar space returns to service this week. Roswell’s Saloon opens this Thursday, May 25, in the former Stone’s Throw space at 1417 Westheimer Rd.
Before getting into the details of the space-themed spot, let’s backtrack just a bit. Roswell’s owner Shawn Bermudez tells CultureMap he planned to open the bar three months or so after Stone’s Throw closed in January 2020. For obvious reasons, those plans changed.
In the interim, Bermudez turned his attention to growing his other business. First, he temporarily moved to Austin to open two locations of his Pavement clothing store brand.
On the restaurant front, he and chef Matthew Pak launched The Taco Stand as a companion to The Burger Joint in the Heights in January 2021. They also opened a third location of The Burger Joint near Baybrook Mall in December 2021. Both concepts are poised for significant growth, with a second location of The Taco Stand already announced for Webster.
“We are expanding The Burger Joint. We have two more projects in the works,” Bermudez says. “We have four more Taco Stands in the works. We have two other full restaurants openings and a dessert concept opening.”
All that growth meant something had to give, so Bermudez quietly sold Present Company, his Instagram-beloved bar on Westheimer, in November (its new owners temporarily closed the bar in January for renovations). Having operated the space as both Royal Oak and Present Company since 2010, Bermudez says moving on was difficult but necessary.
“If I’m able to get a fair price for Present Company, it frees up so much of my time to do these other projects,” he explains. “That’s how much work Present Company took. That’s why it was the right time.”
Out of all the other projects Bermudez is working on, Roswell’s space-themed design — a “cosmic cocktail lounge” in press materials — makes it stand out. The bar’s neon sign takes inspiration from the Glitter Gulch, a famous Las Vegas strip club. Inside, patrons will find planets, an astronaut, and other artifacts hanging from the ceiling. Projection mapped graphics add movement to the walls. Upstairs, vintage-looking posters depict everything from the iconic “The Truth is Out There” motif to the signs of the Zodiac.
Since all of the lighting is either blacklight or neon, Bermudez made sure all of the floors, walls, and bartops are UV-reactive. Overall, the look is a mix of ‘60s space kitsch and the bedroom of a ‘70s teenager.
“Space is endless. The possibilities of what I could do were endless,” he says. “It allowed me creatively to venture out there. It gave me a theme for the entire place that isn’t just decor. It stretches to the cocktails, [including] flavor and presentation.”
Typically, Bermudez does all his own design work, but this time he had some help. DJ David Wrangler — better known as Disko Cowboy — contributed to the space-inspired playlist. Local artist Shelbi Nicole helped with the interior, and media lab Input Output created the projection mapping that’s seen on the walls and the exterior.
Just like at Present Company, Roswell’s Saloon’s cocktails have been designed to be both eye-catching and tasty. Glassware includes space capsule-shaped shot glasses and others that are inspired by planets including Uranus and Mars. The Pale Blue Dot is, of course, named for Earth, and the Crop Circles cocktail uses a housemade elote syrup. A monthly cocktail will take inspiration from the different Zodiac signs (starting with Gemini).
Since the bar looks better after dark, it won’t open until 7 pm. To help lure customers, a Sunset Hour promotion will offer half-off cocktails and $2 off all beer, wine, and bubbles.
Now that he’s firmly established as a restaurateur — his first, the Mexican-inspired tacos and tequila bar Pistolero’s, will celebrate its 10th anniversary next month — is Roswell’s Saloon going to be Bermudez’s last bar?
“I said Present Company was. In my mind, [Roswell’s] was a remodel of an existing space. I always loved the build out. The layout here has always been pretty comfortable,” he says.
“I loved what we did at Royal Oak. I loved what we did at Present Company. Scaling down felt right to me. I love Montrose. To give up a space like this in Montrose didn’t make sense to me.”