"We want it to be just swanky enough and just sleazy enough, a nice symbiosis, like quintessential Montrose." So says Free Press Houston publisher and Free Press Summer Fest founder Omar Afra about his upcoming bar Lowbrow, located at Richmond and W. Main, right by The University of Saint Thomas. Named after a late-1970s underground art movement that merged gritty pop art with comedic social commentary, this bar will likely live up to its name by being the antithesis of some recently opened bars, which might be better characterized as "fine art".
What does sleazy enough mean? "We don't want this to be too swanky, but we don't want people to feel like they need a tetanus shot to use the bathroom," Afra jokes. Although the bathroom here is decorated with beautiful, ornate frames that interior design guru and Immersioncy PR founder Dutch Small brought in as part of his contribution to the bar. The entire bar is a collaboration of sorts. All of the art has been created and supplied by local artists, including the exterior's mural by Michael Rodriguez, which will be replaced with different murals every three months. They've brought in Eatsie Boys' CIA-trained chef Matt Marcus as their culinary advisor and consultant to help launch the bar's food menu for whoever takes over as permanent chef. So when Afra says the bar is representative of Houston and its talent, he means it. According to him, it's less his vision alone and more of a collaborative vision that he's overseeing. "I like to think I have a talent for bringing talented people together," Afra says. "We just want to give people the room to do what they do."
Other fun art features include a projection screen that will play scenes from other local bars. The video pro who filmed the scenes at FPSF and produced LCD Soundsystem's Houston-based "Home" video, Mark Armes, will be shooting scenes at nearby bars and playing them at Lowbrow. Local artist Shelby Hohl drew portraits of deceased Houston personalities — think Anna Nicole Smith and DJ Screw — that will line one wall. Drinks-wise, it'll be a full bar including 22 taps of mostly local craft beer. Even Afra's mother will be a part of the collaboration; she'll be cooking Lebanese food for the occasional pop-up event.
The details on the friends and family soft opening: Thursday (October 24) at 7 p.m. Everyone is welcome to this "very rough" soft with only about five to six menu items up for grabs. Afra says he's looking forward to welcoming locals to this place even before a final opening because he's hoping to receive feedback and opinions on what they're doing. So get ready to be critical, but it's likely that you'll love the bar that loves you THIS much.
· Lowbrow [Twitter]
· All Other Plywood Reports [-EHOU-]
· Lowbrow [Official Site]