My Montrose: Nicolas Brines
Nick is the owner of Azur Salon and Azur West. He grew up on a dairy farm outside a small town in Wisconsin with a graduating high school class of 22 people. He moved to Texas to attend college at University of Houston – hoping for less snow and the Southern scenes made famous on the television classic Dallas. This year, Nick served as Male Grand Marshall for the Pride Parade. He is no newcomer to Montrose or the parade, having not missed one since his relocation in 1989. He loves Montrose. It means so many things to him. We sat down at Empire Cafe to talk his faves.
Best Meal: Tacos de picadillo and cinnamon coffee from La Guadalupana. What a breakfast!
Favorite Shopping: Guyz ‘n Style across from Buffalo Exchange and next to vinoteca poscol. I just got a great shirt there.
Favorite place to get away in the city: Glenwood Cemetery. It’s the only winding hills in Houston; a wonderful marriage of history and nature. I can get lost in there.
Favorite Event: Easy. Pride Parade. I haven’t missed one since 1989. I began as a volunteer in college – now the mayor knows who I am. I’ve been involved with the organization [Pride Houston] since 1994. It’s been instrumental in me becoming who I am.
I remember the year we installed a 25′ disco ball over Westheimer and Montrose using a crane. It was the first time we did the parade at night – what a phenomenal site to see. Everyone came out and was staring at it. Then, at sunset, we hit it with a spotlight and it lit up. The whole neighborhood looked like a disco. The crowd fell silent for a moment before they erupted in cheers. I had chills.
Where do you always take visitors: Every time my parents come to town, they want Tex Mex, so I take them to La Mexicana. When my friends comes to visit, we always hit F Bar for cocktails. I always take friends and family to U of H to walk the campus. It’s a beautiful campus.
What does Montrose mean to you: Oh wow. It’s everything. Coming from such a homogenous background, I first saw culture here. It opened my eyes to culture – both food and people. I saw Asians for the first time. And African Americans. And Hispanics. It shaped my political identities. I began questioning everything I had been taught in Wisconsin. On a personal level, I knew I was gay but I didn’t know how to say it – that word just didn’t exist in my vocabulary previously. I met people I consider my family. They supported me. Through volunteering at Pride Houston, I met people that helped me get a job – and later, they helped me start my own business.
We’re sitting down with Montrose residents and personalities to talk favorite meals, shopping, streets and must stops for visitors in Montrose and around Houston. Have a place to share? Leave us a message in the comments!