Abandoned for 30 years and recently brought back to life, Retrospect, the former Gulf Coast Oil gas station from the early 1900’s on the corner of W. Alabama and La Branch is priming for a new beginning. The historic structure turns coffee bar, ideally by fall 2015. Eater Houston spoke with Stephen Harrison, operating partner of Retrospect, about the hopeful plans for the historic space. Retrospect sits directly across from the Station Museum of Contemporary Art, and is only a few blocks from Houston Community College's central campus. The coffee bar plans to cater to college students with open-mic nights, to the more adventurous crowd with events like drag-queen bingo, as well as to coffee connoisseurs and locavores.
THE FOOD AND DRINK
Harrison, a longtime Houstonian, plans on keeping things local with vendors like Boomtown Coffee, Amaya Roasting, Katz Coffee, Pura Coffee, Pearland Coffee Roasters, Camellia Tea, Geva Premium for drinks. "We're still working on the list of local, fresh food vendors," but the few they plan to work with presently are Honeychild's Sweet Creams and the Houston Dairymaids, with the potential to have space for local food trucks. And for our readers with impeccable coffee game get ready to be impressed, Retrospect has got itself a gorgeous new orange Slayer machine for all your espresso needs. The coffee bar (emphasis on bar) also plans on offering beer and wine for patrons.
Retrospect is an urban beauty of varied history (it was rumored to have been an airline hanger and even a U.S.S.R. owned gas station at one point, again rumored) and street-clout — having been a graffiti canvas and rogue art-gallery space during it's many incarnations. The small structure was built in 1925 and packs an impressive punch of art deco detailing and very recently received landmark status from the city, with this in mind Harrison is adamant the building retain it's past charms.
"We're working with the Sash Guy," Harrison said with pride.
Houston's very own "Sash Guy," is George Clogston, was recently honored by the city for his work in the field of Historic Preservation. His quality work adds to the dedication of history and sense of community Retrospect hopes to exemplify. But the coffee br isn't just looking backwards, the building will merge contemporary with the past, by adding a streamlined storage container attached to the left side of the original structure and green-conscious landscaping surrounding the bar.
Native and drought resistant plants, with a variety of succulents and plants native to the region will surround the front and back space of the building. "There is a 70 year old Pecan tree in the backyard that we have trimmed and treated. We've planted nine Cedar Elm trees for maximum shade along the Alabama and La Branch side," Harrison noted. Inside, the space will utilize their tiny square footage to maximum capabilities, with an open flow concept and easy access to the more modern attached storage unit. The architecture firm behind Retrospect's design and restoration is the venerable Kinneymorrow Architecture firm based in Houston.
The name "Retrospect" is meant to be evocative of the past, with a mindful focus on what makes something sustainable and prominent in a community. Prominent in a way that emphasizes respect to the history of a space, while being innovative and eco-conscious in design. "We are also working on our LEED certification to go along with our landmark status," Harrison added smiling, "Hooray for being green!"