Speculation surrounding Anvil Bar & Refuge general manager Alba Huerta's future came to an end today, as she and Anvil co-owner Bobby Heugel announced today that Huerta will be opening a new bar called Julep on Washington Avenue in the space formerly occupied by The Corkscrew. The announcement represents the culmination of a dream that Huerta has harbored throughout her twelve years in the industry, which featured a stint as the manager at Grand Prize prior to joining Anvil a year ago. "It's always been common knowledge (that I wanted to own a bar," Huerta told Eater, "That's a desire I've always had."
Julep will distinguish itself from Anvil in several significant ways. First, the space is much larger, which will allow room for private events and classes. "With the (Houston Bartenders) Guild and LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails), that's something I always have a need for," Huerta explained. "Having that extra space in the back is what really sold me on (the location)". The extra room will also allow Huerta and Heugel to develop a cocktail catering business modeled on the work they did at Free Press Summer Fest, when they led a team that served freshly made drinks to thousands of thirsty concert goers.
Furthermore, the decor will be different. Huerta explains that, instead of Anvil's industrial look, Julep "will be warmer, with a softer feel to the building." Finally, Julep will feature a larger kitchen that can serve a wider variety of food than is presently available at Anvil.
One common link between Anvil, Julep and the upcoming OKRA bar is a commitment to renovating a historic space, in this case a former uniform factory. Huerta explained that she and Heugel found the space when they were driving around looking at the options that were available to them. Huerta says that "All the hardware's still there. There's all kinds of cool, constructed pieces. There's a conveyor belt. The more of the building I saw the more I realized it was the space I wanted."
Finally, Huerta plans to write a blog about the experience of opening Julep to educate other future bar owners about the process. Opening a bar is "highly romanticized, (but really) it's a lot of work. Why not share that knowledge with other people?" Look for the first post soon, with more to come until the bar opens early next year.