For Uptown Park shoppers and nearby residents, Giant Leap’s arrival provides a local alternative to the Starbucks that closed earlier this year. The kiosk location, a ground up build by Rootlab — a design and construction firm that shares ownership with Giant Leap — packs a lot into a tidy 650 square feet.
“We wanted a little jewel box of a structure,” co-owner Logan Beck tells CultureMap. “Bright and full of light with space for people to come in and grab a coffee and be on their way or stay and drink it. It’s not really set up for long hangs, but that was more dictated by space constraints.”
In keeping with its name, customers will notice lots of space-themed details. For example, the bar front takes its design from an image of the moon’s surface that the Rootlab team turned into a depth map. A model of the lunar lander sits in a case near the register. Interior seating is limited, but patio tables will be added once the weather cools.
Like Giant Leap’s original location in the East End, the kiosk serves coffee and espresso drinks made with locally-roasted Amaya Coffee. Known for house specialities such as a take on Vietnamese coffee that swaps in espresso for the usual drip coffee, Beck says the pandemic has provided Giant Leap’s baristas with the time to develop some new drinks, including a golden milk latte made with ginger and turmeric.
Tlahuac, the Mexican concept from chef Nicholas Vera and pastry chef Stephanie Velasquez, supplies Giant Leap with pastries and horchata, which it uses for cold brew coffee. The chefs will also oversee the kitchen at Giant Leap's new location in The Plant, the redeveloped industrial site in the East End that's home to CultureMap Tastemaker Awards bar of the year nominee How To Survive on Land and Sea.
While Giant Leap recently closed its original East End location, Beck says its replacement should open in the next three months or so. At 3,200 square feet, it will offer plenty of room for dine-in, studying, and community events. Another Rootlab project, the design will feature a patio with a retractable skylight.
“I’m excited about that,” Beck says about the patio. “That was inspired by some coffee shops I went to in Mexico City. Houston is hot and it rains, but six or seven months out of the year it’d be nice to have open air.”
Together with How to Survive and Night Shift, a new cocktail bar from former Johnny’s Gold Brick general manager Justin Ware and Patrick Abalos, Giant Leap is helping turn that corner of the East End into a promising culinary destination.
“For me, the East End is near and dear to my heart,” Beck says. “Rootlab has been in the neighborhood for six years. I’ve seen this neighborhood develop. I love it. I think there’s a lot of potential for growth and I like being part of that.”