Scott Ball / Rivard Report
Dignowity Hill has continued to see revitalization and growth in recent years, in the form of restaurants, small businesses, and housing developments, among other things. A small, neighborhood bar on East Houston Street is next on the list of new developments being implemented in the area.
Brothers Maxim and Jean-Luc Mette, and Lindsey, Jean-Luc’s wife, are leading the effort to establish Faible, an affordable indoor/outdoor bar with a “very laid back, chill vibe” that they plan to open sometime early next summer.
The Mettes envision Faible to be a place that’s appealing to “people from all walks of life,” Jean-Luc said, since the Eastside is continuing to welcome new opportunities and residents integrating into a long-established and historically disadvantaged community. Once established, the bar will serve cocktails, beer, tea, and small snacks, all at a low cost.
Longer down the road, the Mettes eventually would like to expand the 1,000 sq. ft. space to have a full kitchen and they envision the venue to one day host live music performances, too.
The idea for the bar has been in the works for quite some time now. It’s been a dream that Maxim and Jean-Luc, who were born in Germany and now live in China and San Antonio, respectively, have shared with each other over the years as a way to build something together and unite in one locale.
“Growing up we’ve always been close and since (Maxim) moved to China five or six years ago we’ve been so far apart,” Jean-Luc told the Rivard Report. “It was our goal to end up in the same city.”
Once a couple of friends who worked as developers sold the Mettes the property – a vacant, 1930s-era house – they knew it was the perfect chance to begin making their dream a reality.
The three of them began mapping out a plan. They want to give the 1,000 sq. ft. space a carefree, “hippyish” vibe while still “honoring the old building,” Jean-Luc said.
Specific design details have yet to be decided on, but much of the bar’s decor will be inspired by small, hip joints the brothers have visited throughout Europe. Maxim, who used to manage a small bar in China, said naming the bar Faible, which in German means having a penchant or soft spot for something, just seemed to make sense since the project has been something he and Jean-Luc have visualized for years.
“We also like that it has the sound of the english word ‘fable’ because that’s a little bit of the vibe that we’re targeting – a little bit quirky,” Maxim said.
Jean-Luc’s and Maxim’s German heritage also will be incorporated into the bar’s design, but “it won’t have a beer garden or Oktoberfest vibe,” Jean-Luc said.
The team recently got rezoning approval from the City Zoning Commission, which allows the house to be run as a bar. The Historic and Design Review Commission gave the project the green light, as well.
Jean-Luc and Lindsey – Dignowity Hill residents – and Maxim also spoke with nearby neighborhood residents and leaders who voiced their support of the project, something they see as a positive addition to the area with a growing number of small businesses.
One of their only stipulations was to add bike racks outside and preserve the building as much as possible.
“They told us, ‘don’t try to make it into something that it’s not,'” Jean-Luc said.
Now, the much-needed renovation work will begin, like replacing broken windows and the ceiling, repairing a hole-ridden floor, and adding new plumbing and electric systems, among other things.
Faible will be located at 1506 E. Houston, a high-traffic area situated near two favorite neighborhood spots – Dignowity Meats and Tucker’s Kozy Korner – along with newer establishments such as Oak & Salt Quality Goods and Estate Coffee Company.
“There’s already a lot of energy and really nice, good people (in the area),” Maxim said.
Jean-Luc, Maxim, and Lindsey all see their new business venture in the burgeoning Dignowity Hill neighborhood as a way to help the area continue to evolve for the benefit of the existing community.
“In order for the neighborhood to continue to improve,” Jean-Luc said, “I think the businesses will be crucial.”