Two of Houston’s most well-known culinary innovators are putting the final touches on their latest project. Bobby Heugel and Justin Yu will open the doors to Penny Quarter, their new wine bar and all-day cafe, on Monday, August 12.
Located next to Anvil in the former site of the Etro nightclub, Penny Quarter will feature a wine list of approximately 100 bottles selected by Justin Vann, who oversees the wine options at both of Heugel and Yu’s other projects, Better Luck Tomorrow and Squable, as well as for Yu's restaurant Theodore Rex and downtown bar Public Services. Penny Quarter will offer 16 wines by-the-glass.
Vann tells CultureMap in an email that Squable and Penny Quarter’s lists are different in a couple of key ways.
“Squable is a very classic list with no unusual flavors, whereas the list of Penny Quarter contains a small portion of more progressive wines,” he writes. “More than anything, the goal of the wine list is to serve a wide array of palates at a reasonable price.”
Wine, beer, and simple cocktails will be available starting at 7 am Monday through Saturday (slightly later on Sunday to comply with TABC regulations), which is good news for both third-shift workers who want a tipple before heading to bed and people who like a glass of wine with lunch. In addition, Penny Quarter’s baristas will serve espresso drinks daily until 3 pm, with drip coffee available into the evenings. Best of all, partner Alex Negranza’s signature Irish coffee will be available all the time.
Yu and chef de cuisine Natasha Douglas developed the menu, which will be available a couple of weeks after opening; like Eight Row Flint, food will be prepared by an on-site food truck. As at Better Luck Tomorrow, Heugel tells CultureMap he expects food to account for roughly a quarter of the bar’s sales, but the menu has an entirely different focus.
“Justin likes to describe the food as ‘nutritious.’ That’s something he’s been saying quite a bit,” Heugel says. “I think that’s not quite saying ‘healthy,’ I think that [word] carries too much baggage.”
Whatever label one attaches, the dishes listed on a proposed menu certainly look intriguing. Breakfast options include a salad of hardboiled eggs, marinated tomatoes, kale, and sprouts; two eggs with bacon, sausage, and toast; and a spicy fried egg sandwich. In addition to avocado toast, the kitchen will serve sweet pea toast, ricotta toast and pistachio butter toast.
For lunch and dinner, diners will find a spiced avocado with marinated tomatoes, arugula, and pecorino; chilled Gulf shrimp with chili oil; cheese and charcuterie plates; french fries with parmesan and black pepper; and more. Entree options include a burger made with a blended beef and mushroom patty, a grilled cheese sandwich, and a take of classic chicken and rice.
Heugel notes that the kitchen will do its best to accommodate various dietary restrictions. For example, many of the dishes can be made gluten-free.
As noted about, Penny Quarter is Heugel and Yu’s third project. Heugel has had a few different business partners in the 10 years since he opened Anvil, but he’s feeling confident about his current professional relationships with Yu, Vann, and other principals, such as Negraza, Squable general manager Terry Williams, and Tommy Ho, the general manager for both Anvil and Penny Quarter.
“It’s a really good situation, and I think in a lot of ways Penny Quarter is a commitment to keep working together,” Heugel says.
Currently, Heugel says he and Yu are working with a project and development director to organize their operations and help things run more efficiently. They will likely open another business together, but it might not be soon.
“We’ve committed to each other we will not be signing any new leases for at least a year,” he says. “We might do little side things here or there.”
The next couple of weeks will be a busy time for new Montrose restaurants. Chris Shepherd will debut the new One Fifth on Tuesday, and Goodnight Hospitality’s two projects — Rosie Cannonball and Montrose Cheese and Wine — appear to be very close to making their debuts.
How Penny Quarter fits into this evolving landscape remains to be seen, but given the acclaim that’s greeted both Better Luck Tomorrow and Squable, diners and wine lovers will likely be eager to pay it a visit.