Houston Coffee Shop Southside Espresso bids involuntary farewell to Montrose

South Side Espresso at 904 Westheimer in the same building as Uchi Houston — the historic former location of Mexican restaurant Felix — says goodbye with a farewell party on Saturday, April 16 from 5-7 p.m. after its last day in business. It’s a bittersweet start. While the store has had a relatively long tenure in the space – a decade, as it opened in 2012 – the owner Sean Marshall says the closure is not by choice.

Marshall and his wife, Michelle, opened the cafe after founding their own brand of roasting and coffee beans, Fusion Beans, in their garage in 2007.

According to Sean, he initially suspected that the new owner Capital Radomand financier JP Morgan Capital, may not renew Southside Espresso’s lease when LaLaLand Kind Cafe, a Dallas-based coffeehouse chain, has moved into one of Radom Capital’s other buildings across the street. At that time, Marshall said he started trying to find out if Southside Espresso’s lease would be renewed, but didn’t get an answer for a few weeks. The situation became clear, however, when workers came to measure the space and said they were working for Uchi. Marshall says that after Southside Espresso closes, Uchi will expand into space. (We reached out to a representative from Uchi to find out what the space will be used for and when the expansion will take place. Additionally, we spoke with a representative and also left a phone message with Radom Capital to find out why the company refused to renew Southside Espresso’s lease and will update this article if we receive a response.)

fusion beans and southern espresso drinks
Fusion Beans coffee and Southside Espresso drinks on the small gravel patio outside the shop. Courtesy picture.

The decision not to renew Southside Espresso’s lease comes just as Marshall says business is picking up. “We battled COVID. We got PPP and EIDL loans. We struggled through [Uchi’s] construction – which was worse than COVID – and started to see a recovery. It’s bittersweet because last month the numbers were better than they’ve been in two years.

At this point, the Marshalls’ financial lifeline is back to what it was: tied to their coffee-roasting business, Fusion Beans. Sean also plans to start an espresso trailer and serve at pop-up venues, such as the Montrose Market at 1001 Westheimer (where the center housing the Spec’s and Half-Price books was located before its demolition). “We will always have a physical presence, however small,” Sean said. He also hired Creative high key to refresh online branding and website.

Marshall says the best way to support Fusion Beans and the upcoming Southside Espresso Truck is to buy coffee beans online (the company ships nationwide) and keeps abreast of new online developments on the Fusion Beans and South Side Espresso Instagram accounts.

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