Way back in December, the Austin-based coffee shop Houndstooth announced they were building a location in Lakewood at the corner of Skillman and Oram. It was going to be grand. Houndstooth owner, Dallas native Sean Henry, was still working out the details. He wanted the design of the building to be “pretty fun,” although he said it would be different than his original location in Austin, which was styled around his custom-built, 1960s-Space-Race-inspired espresso machine. He also planned to play into the rising trend of offering local brews as well as coffee. At the time, there wasn’t anything quite like it in the neighborhood, although we now have Mudsmith on Lower Greenville, which boasts a similar concept and has been largely successful in its endeavors.
As exciting as the possibility was (and I did meet several people who seemed excited about it), unfortunately someone already occupied that particular corner — Gallery Central, a custom framing store that had been there for 23 years. Stonelake Capital Partners, who owns the shopping center, told owner Steffanie Smith she had to move to make room for the new java joint. “They were nice enough, but it was obvious this is a numbers game,” Smith said at the time.
Luckily Smith didn’t have to move far. Stonelake began preparing a spot for her behind the building. It was a little out of sight, but at least it was in the same shopping center. Smith had to be out by January so Houndstooth could begin setting up shop. By February, it was obvious things were moving a little slower than planned for Houndstooth, but sure enough Gallery Central moved out.
Smith opened in her new location behind the building in April, and her new space, to be honest, is lovely. If you haven’t visited her, I suggest you pop in to say, “Hi.” You can access it through the back parking lot, between Sunstone Yoga and the playground for the EDDC.
“I like the space — it’s open and it’s bigger — but business has really slowed down because we don’t have the window spot on the street,” Smith says. “We were supposed to be closed two weeks, but because we had to be out over there before this one was finished, we were closed three months, so that really hurt us.”
But, more than six months after Houndstooth announced its plans to move to Lakewood, the location at the corner of Oram and Skillman is still coffeeless.
“It’s been very frustrating,” Smith says. “I could have been there all along, everybody would have been happy.”
So where in the world is Houndstooth?
Well, honestly, I have no earthly clue. Once upon a time, I could call Henry for an update every now and then to find out how things were coming along. Heck, back in the good ole days, we even Tweeted at each other! But in the past couple months, my calls have gone unanswered and unreturned. Last time I talked with him in March, he said the project was on hold while he dealt with “unexpected issues,” but then he wouldn’t elaborate on what said issues were. At the time, he said he was unsure of the future, although he did say he still wanted to open a Houndstooth in that location.
Recently I began bugging the property manager at Stonelake, but I haven’t been able to get ahold of her, and she won’t return my calls either. Then, finally, someone at Stonelake did answer the phone. It wasn’t who I needed to talk with, so she wouldn’t say much, but she gave me this tiny sliver of information (I have no idea who she is or what her name is, by the way, so take it with a grain of salt.): “As of right now, they’re not going in, but we have not closed them off from coming.”
It’s not much, but at least we know where we stand… kind of. I intend to keep annoying the heck out of everyone involved, so stay tuned for more information later on. Eventually someone has to tell us what’s going on, right? Here’s to hoping anyways.
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.