West Main Standalone Now Available for Next Restaurant

This corner at Mandell and West Main near Richmond and the Menil Collection has lost another tenant; Sophia bowed out of the freestanding brick building at the end of February. It was back in 2008 when Sophia’s predecessor Café Artiste kept this “closed today” sign posted in the window for an entire month, receiving your questions and comments without betraying a word; Sophia’s sand-bagged sign, spotted by a Swamplot reader at the end of last week, doesn’t appear to have inspired the same level of community feedback just yet.

Photos: Jack McBride (Sophia); Flickr user DrPantzo [license]

11 Comment

  • With the coming expansion of the St Thomas/Menil campus this is a perfect spot for a sophisticated, artsy cafe. Success guaranteed.

  • “sophisticated, artsy cafe” brings an image to mind of men in top hats and monocles admiring a painting of dogs playing poker while saying things like “indubitably” and “fortnight” :)

  • Cafe Artiste was “perfect” for the area and it failed. I guess it’s a great location for yet another person with a truck to go bricks and mortar.

  • The problem with “sophisticated, artsy cafe” is that the sophisticated artsy types sit around all day snarfing up the free wi-fi and occupying all of the tables as they study their sophisticated, artsy lessons and buy one or two cups of coffee. That’s not enough to keep any restaurant/cafe in business.

    Hey, I know, why not a pizza joint? We could serve only deep-dish and call the place Chicago Pizza.

  • I always like Sophia’s food even though the menu was limited. The price point was great. The problem is that it doesn’t sem like the kitchen is very well suited to cooking for more than 2 people at a time.

  • Cafe Artiste had a wonderful Southern Pecan flavor coffee. I miss it even now, all these years later.

  • As someone who used to while away many hours of underemployment slurping up bottomless coffee and bottomless wifi at Cafe Artiste, I agree with Googlemaster. The place had a good vibe and was always packed, but I suspect they didn’t have much turn. It seems like a good location, though. Someone should be able to make it work, somehow balancing the “neighborhood hangout” aspect with the “going concern” aspect.

  • @commonsense, hahaha. Thanks for that. I remember when this hood was all punk rockers and gay bars back in the late 80’s to early 90’s.

    Then it all got douche-ified in the early 2000’s when the westheimer street fest was banned. All curly mustaches, tight jeans and funny hats from pretentious people trying to look “Bohemian” now. Ahhh H-town, how I love and hate You Sooo much at the same time, I’ll never know. Oh that’s right, YOU’RE home…

  • I used to own the apt building next door (1603 W. Main). Sold it when I realized the guy with the apt building next door would never sell (which I thought he might) and the owners of the restaurant wouldn’t sell. My plan to put together a big chunk of corner land died.
    I see that corner getting blown up in the next ~5 years.

  • +1 on the deep dish pizza joint Déjà vu.

  • I used to work at(for a year) and frequent(10+ years) Cafe Artiste.

    Bill – the coffee you miss is Southern Pecan by Lola Savannah. You may find it at Central Market or can order it from their website(now renamed Texas Pecan). It actually had real slivers of pecan in it.

    Artiste was a great place to hang out but it never did well financially aside from weekend breakfast rushes. When they had to furlough everyone just to afford getting the AC fixed(which is like life support in Houston), it was the warning sign the end was near.

    I would assume Black Hole coffee, just blocks away, is the spiritual successor and it seems much better run/organized. I’ve since moved on in life and out of Montrose, but will always have special memories of Artiste.