New Owner of Baba Yega Buys Neighboring Montrose Mining Company Building

Is the site of shuttered gay bar Montrose Mining Company destined to become a parking lot for nearby restaurant Baba Yega Cafe? The new owner of Baba Yega, developer Fred Sharifi, bought the 39-year-old bar on the corner of Pacific and Grant streets from longtime proprietor Charles Armstrong last month. When the bar closed in 2016, Armstrong said he was working on plans to bring a new restaurant to the building within 18 months. A sign posted on the door of 805 Pacific St. now directs would-be patrons to one of Armstrong’s other hangouts across Pacific — JR’s Bar & Grill. Above that flyer, a notice from the city dated December 14 — 2 days after the 2,809-sq.-ft. building was sold — tells its owners to stop all unpermitted plumbing and structural work on the site.

Sharifi has now purchased at least 5 Montrose properties within the last 2 years, including Baba Yega, Montrose Mining Company, and 3 sites slated to be part of a project he’s developing on Fairview of which was home to Armstrong’s nightclub Meteor. In addition to his projects in Montrose, Sharifi also owns Hungry’s Cafe in Rice Village.

Armstrong still appears to own a vacant, 6,648-sq.-ft. property that wraps around the east side of Montrose Mining Company:


On the south side of the bar, that property runs between Montrose Mining Company and Baba Yega and is currently used for restaurant parking.

Photos: Swamplot inbox

Old Gay Bars of Avondale

21 Comment

  • Baba Yega has got to be the most overrated restaurant in Houston. Really terrible food.

  • Another Montrose icon bites the dust.

  • getoffmylawn: Montrose is too pricey nowadays for a place to stay around that caters to a niche of a niche.

  • I don’t think Baba Yega has long for this world. Looks like Sharifi is trying to pull together enough parcels for a new urban project like his on Fairview.

  • Gay’s are not a niche. I resent that description.

  • Swamplot: you don’t think calling the gay culture a “niche” is insulting? People have been killed and beaten in Montrose for this “niche”. You guys suck totally. That’s why so many of your people who used to make comment are gone.

  • Old news. Not relevant.

  • Sad to see another established LGBT institution close..

  • define Niche:
    a specialized segment of the market for a particular kind of product or service

    LGBT is a specialized segment of the market.

  • Every bar caters to its “niche” (E.g. craft beer, hip hop, trendy, sports). By choosing to describe Mining Company by that term, the message PERCEIVED by gay Swamplot readers, including myself, is: “you’re a niche.” One can’t pretend like it wasn’t a snide and disparaging comment, and to top it off, @toast chooses to contribute their trivializing and dehumanizing definition.

    For the definition lovers:
    Snide: derogatory or mocking in an INDIRECT way.
    Disparage: to depreciate by indirect means.
    Trivialize: make (something) seem less important, significant, or complex than it really is.

  • You can resent or be offended all you want. It wasn’t meant to be offensive. When people get offended it normally says more about them than the person making the comment.
    If you have a business that caters to women, that’s also a niche, just a large (50% of the population) one. You can have a business that caters to bikers (another niche), or Hispanics or any number of groups. Saying a business caters to one group isn’t offensive.
    The longer point is this: 10-20 years ago, the % of gay and lesbian people in Montrose was much higher than it is today. Part of that is the high price of RE (and no, don’t be offended by that as I’m not saying gay/lesbians are poor, only that many of the people who used to call Montrose home have been driven out by gentrification).
    Thus, as the % of Montrose that is gay or lesbian decreases, and rent for businesses increases, it remains harder to stay open while catering to that niche (or ‘demographic if that makes you feel better). And from my understating, Montrose Minding Company really targeted men specifically (another niche, er, demographic).
    So I stand by my comment: A business that caters to a niche (men) of a niche (gay men) in an area that has high costs (where you need to cast a wide net) is going to have a hard time staying afloat. I’d love to hear where I’m wrong.
    If you disagree, there are plenty of buildings you can buy/rent to open a replacement. Our free market offers a great way to find out what’s economically true.

  • Parking! Of course! What more do we need in our walkable neighborhood, besides more surface lots! C’mon Houston, don’t let people walk from their house a 1/2 mile away, make it easier to drive and park.

  • “Every bar caters to its “niche” (E.g. craft beer, hip hop, trendy, sports). By choosing to describe Mining Company by that term, the message PERCEIVED by gay Swamplot readers, including myself, is: “you’re a niche.””

    I read this no less than 20 times and just do not see where the snideness originated. Its OK to call a sports bar a niche bar, a trendy bar can be called a niche klerb, but a gay bar (and or its patrons) can not be called a niche. Do I understand this right?

  • @Cody, well put but the Jonathan character has been trolling the board for a few days now. Your reply ain’t gonna make him suddenly see the light.

  • being perpetually offended must be exhausting

  • I don’t remember people getting this riled up when the BRB closed. The building the Mining Company is in is old and has been having more and more problems. I hate seeing another parking lot going in here, but I think MC saw its day. As for Baba Yega, is the food really that bad or is it just not “au courant” enough for the cool people? Seems like restaurants trend through food fashion these days and are constantly closing, changing their “concept” and reopening as something else. And frankly anything that isn’t homogenized to the lowest common denominator anymore is a niche. Why argue about it?

  • TheNiche could settle all of this.

  • @CA, you’re right, there wasn’t much lamenting in response to the original Swamplot post about the [closing of the 35-year-old BRB](, probably because the news was buried in a headline link post. However, later posts focusing on the [fate of the old BRB site]( and the [launch of Neon Boots]( yielded 17 and 27 comments, respectively, comparable to this discussion about Baba Yega and Montrose Mining Co.

  • For those gays that are getting out their soapbox to start the “I’m so offended at being called a niche” chants, please just simmer down. As a fellow gay person, we’ve come a long way. Sometimes, it is good to be part of the mainstream and other times, it is good to be part of a niche.
    I don’t view the term as derogatory – it is a neutral term. As Cody said, one could substitute “demographic” and no one would be grabbing the pitchforks and torches. Back on topic, the Mine had its day but it just hasn’t been able to keep up with the times. Any number of factors have changed the gay bar dynamic.

  • I don’t view the term as derogatory either.

  • The gentrification of Montrose and the erasure of the once-viable LGBT community there has been going on since the late 1990s. What does it matter if a community no longer lacks cohesion, or it’s cultural mainstays or community spaces exist, when what’s really important is that developers are happy and profitable, that they can bulldoze their way to over-priced townhouse Heaven, and that 30-somethings and Yuppies have trendy boutiques and bistros to enjoy and which will last about as long as their last craze did, (whatever that happened to be.) Who needs cultural history or permanence when what’s really important is addiction to change for the sake of change and being where the cool kids eat, shop, and live?