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Washington Square: Retail Center At 4720 Washington Ave.


citykid09

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What's the general idea? High end with a clubby atmosphere?

No, I know that's what Houston is made up of and there is one that worked out in NY called Tavalon Tea Bar. But there seems to be a different feel on Washington Ave. I want the tea bar to have an inviting atmosphere with not too much else to take away from the menu. It would be more of a place to hang out rather than just to be seen. We'd offer a menu similar to that of Starbuck's but all tea instead of coffee (cup of hot or iced tea, tea lattes, tea smoothies, desserts, loose leaf, etc.) There would be wi-fi and maybe board games.

High end with a clubby atmosphere is a good idea for Houston but I don't know about this location.

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Growing up in British Columbia, I remember places like this having a very loyal following. I think part of that is because of our British heritage which is really into their teas. Beyond iced tea, I'm not sure how many people down here would like a good Earl Grey or Chamomile, however there is no question that there are tons of expats in Houston that this would really draw in.

Also, something like this I think would be a great addition to a pedestrian friendly area, perhaps you should consider a bit further north into the Heights itself? Everytime I walk or cycle past the new coffee shop Antidote on Studemont I am amazed at the consistent number of people they have inside, and it seems like most new places in that area create almost an instant following of locals.

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If I were you I would become a regular in the tea bar on Fairview and keep detailed notes of what is getting sold at what times on what days. That'll give you a basis for revenue, and I expect a tea bar on Washington would be able to generate similar numbers.

I do think you'd need to find a cool old building to give you the kind of atmosphere you'd want in a tea bar. A strip mall tea bar next to a Kinko's or an Ace Check Cashing just wouldn't do it for me.

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What do you guys think about a tea bar on Washington Ave? I've been looking into opening one for a while and was thinking the Galleria area would be ideal. It's just impossible to afford and and most likely would not turn a profit with a lease there. With all the new commercial and residential development going on at Washington Ave, would a tea bar work here?

I think if you did it with a unique atmosphere where people will want to come to hang out. A Chinese theme might work. The Starbucks-style coffee shop atmosphere seems a little stale at this point.

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funky, eclectic decor. the modern thing has been in high gear for quite awhile. it's getting old (imo). not sure if modern is going to go out quickly or be a more long term trend.

i think a tea bar on washington would be well received.

cwmr4's suggestion about shopping the fairview tea place is wise.

good luck and keep us posted.

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This is definitely a generalization, but from my experience in other cities, the most successful tea houses are the ones that are "traditional yet funky" and have a bias toward female clientele. I can't tell you how many people I've seen have different types of showers (my wife included) at tea houses. Not to say it needs to be strictly for women bc I like them as well, but I think a large portion of revenue for many tea houses comes from special events such as showers. Of course when I say tea house I am speaking of the more traditional European style tea house not the hipper Asian style tea houses which to me are more like smoothie shops (but I like me some bubble tea too). Of course there are exceptions to everything I just said but I think it's something to keep in my. And I think that given the outside perception of the heights a Victorian style tea room would be a perfect fit. As for Washington Ave though I'm not sure the area is really tea house material, 19th street would probably be a better bet in my opinion. Good luck if you decide to do it.

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i don't drink coffee but find myself at coffee shops all the time for 1) wi-fi away from home, 2) social interaction, 3) a mid day pick me up.

i know my friends would likely go to a place like this, even more so if it was in the heights proper as we all like to walk (really we do. i live generally at studewood/11th and walk to cricket's on 19th, antidote, mccains, dry creek). you can't get out of the heights on foot. there are so many work at home people (artists, etc) and stay at home moms in the heights that could keep someplace like this buzzing all day. washington corridor is (maybe) mostly professionals.

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This thread just gave me the flashback to a fancy team room in Pearland on 35 circa 1993.

I think there was also one in Rosenberg.

I like the above idea of a Asian hipster theme, but how different is that than the old Bubble Tea trend?

You may just be better of in Kingwood/Woodland/Clear Lake/Sugar Land ladies who lunch scene if you want to make money instead of being a cool place where nobody goes.

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I'm all for It! As an individual who worked from home for a while in that area, I will definitely say there are a ton of people home during the day and there are also a ton of people who eat lunch in the area...Also, think about everything that's coming to that area, apartments and a ton of retail. If you're going to do it, do it soon or the rental rates will not last...

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I like the idea of an updated riff on English high tea. Modern/asian is done to death. How about have the space be sort of English country/flea-market. Adapts to Southern style easily without getting frilly and chintzy. It can be done in an unfussy way. Just need to stay communal. Leaves you wide open for decorating on the cheap. Definitely do some food. All those small sandwiches on domed displays. (like tapas, except sammiches!) Need to give your wifi freeloaders something else to buy!

Edited by crunchtastic
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If it were at 12th and Yale I'd go. Someone needs to do something with those old commercial buildings across from the Fire Station ("Heights Town Hall")... I was thinking a coffee show would do well there but with a ton springing up recently I have changed my mind to something along the lines of a tea bar or breakfast place. I'd love to see something like Daily Grind or Empire open up close by.

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Sounds like The Heights needs a Patisserie Valerie. I love the SOHO location. It's a chain, but a yummy one.

soho1.jpg

http://www.patisserie-valerie.co.uk/location/soho.html

wouldn't that be perfect in those 12th and yale buildings? someone do it before harry jerk off james buys them and pits some brick (but only on the front) townhouses there.

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I'd eat there and I dont' even live in The Heights. Make it easy and just copy their entire menu ;-)

Full English, please!

http://www.patisserie-valerie.co.uk/files/.../menus/soho.pdf

Hi thanks for everyone's comments so far. They've been helpful and encouraging. To answer some questions, I'll tell you more about the idea- I was thinking of a tea bar with a memorable atmosphere for people to enjoy tea while hanging out alone or with friends. I picture the anterior to be intricate, a little artsy, and vintage similar to the interior to the clothing store Anthropologie (http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=anthropologie). Big open windows would be nice. The main thing will be the tea that we'd serve and several desserts to choose from. Although the patisserie-valerie looks great, we wouldn't want to serve food because we wouldn't want anything to take away from our tea. It wouldn't be good if the first thing you smell is eggs when you walk in rather than the aroma of tea. Plus opening a restaurant is a whole different venture. We'll have our own menu with hot or iced teas, tea lattes, tea smoothies, teas specialties from around the world, loose leafs, etc.

After reading thru, it sounds like the heights would be good for high-traffic but washington would be best for leasing rates right now. I'll be looking around. Maybe redo an old house around here?

I'd like to stay away from the asian inspired boba tea or the victorian style tea room idea. Too many already and this is supposed to be a newer concept w tea. I'd like it to be just a special place with a good crowd, wifi, lots of atmosphere, and of course good tea.

Camy

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Hi thanks for everyone's comments so far. They've been helpful and encouraging. To answer some questions, I'll tell you more about the idea- I was thinking of a tea bar with a memorable atmosphere for people to enjoy tea while hanging out alone or with friends. I picture the anterior to be intricate, a little artsy, and vintage similar to the interior to the clothing store Anthropologie (http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=anthropologie). Big open windows would be nice. The main thing will be the tea that we'd serve and several desserts to choose from. Although the patisserie-valerie looks great, we wouldn't want to serve food because we wouldn't want anything to take away from our tea. It wouldn't be good if the first thing you smell is eggs when you walk in rather than the aroma of tea. Plus opening a restaurant is a whole different venture. We'll have our own menu with hot or iced teas, tea lattes, tea smoothies, teas specialties from around the world, loose leafs, etc.

After reading thru, it sounds like the heights would be good for high-traffic but washington would be best for leasing rates right now. I'll be looking around. Maybe redo an old house around here?

since you seem to be open to ideas: as far as food, i don't always want dessert, but a nice piece of zucchini bread will do my just fine most afternoons (before dinner). antiodte gets food delivered from kraftsmen and always has a nice sweet selection plus some cheese or dips (like hummus). i know you don't want to be just like them or anying, but these are things that i think have contributed to their success. perhaps you can come up with something similar but unique that goes with tea (scones come to mind, altho not too unique)

i love the idea of the interior. clean vintage! i think people have had it up to -here- with shabby chic. if you prepare for kids, all us hip heights moms will come- at appropriate times, like mid afternoon when most people are working.

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... I was thinking of a tea bar with a memorable atmosphere for people to enjoy tea while hanging out alone or with friends. I picture the anterior to be intricate, a little artsy, and vintage similar to the interior to the clothing store Anthropologie ...

I don't hear anything different or interesting about this place. Why should I go there instead of some other vintage artsy tea joint? For that matter, why should I go to any tea place? Hot water and leaves in a pot? I've got the equipment for that at home.

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I don't hear anything different or interesting about this place. Why should I go there instead of some other vintage artsy tea joint? For that matter, why should I go to any tea place? Hot water and leaves in a pot? I've got the equipment for that at home.

well, i can only speak for myself, but sometimes it's just nice to get the heck out of the house and be somewhere where you don't have to wash your own cup.

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The banker in me says this business model would have a hard time making money.

I can see why you'd think so as it is not high end tea. I'm hoping to bring in sales through a strong menu & location with a loyal customer base.

I do want to know what you think. please explain.

Edited by kimanh01
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I do want to know what you think. please explain.

Kimanh, I think a tea bar on Washington is a good idea. Go for high visible location, low rent, so even with a low price point (how much can you charge for a cup of tea anyway?!), volume will pull you through. Washington Ave. has the visibility, and with density moving close by, it can potentially work.

As others have suggested, check out Te House of Tea on Fairview. In the evenings, you might find Kevin working (he's often there to close the register). He has an economics background, and may be able to help you with a business model.

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  • 2 weeks later...

To the one who is thinking of the Tea Bar/Place idea. There are currently a great deal of rental spaces on Washington, in and around near 2200 to 1800 areas. The owners live in the 6th Ward area, the Historic neighborhood behind, which is borderd by Houston Ave, Washington, Taylor, & Memorial Way. The rents are fairly reasonable and it sure would be nice to see something like this coming in as opposed to the Bars/Clubs coming up. We are a mixed family and mostly professionals in the area. You can advertise on the Old Sixth Yahoo groups and I like the Tapioca type Asian inspired tea places. But, I do love tea, so whatever you decide is fine. Had my Tapioca tea fix today downtown, near UofH. Catalina Coffee Shop has done great, lots of traffic, so I disagree that we could not be the right area for something like this. I am sure the traffic/people come from a little down Washington and wherever close. Stop by and ask Max for the owners names- the 2 brothers still have space for lease next door to the Dark Horse Tavern, and a Skate/Vans Shop is opening in one of their spaces. They also have space available in the same building as the Wine Bar: The Corkscrew. Check it out- Don't leave us out of the loop for a hip place like this.

Good Luck on Your Future Venture.......

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