My Montrose: Cuchara’s Ana Beaven
1. Why did you choose Montrose for Cuchara?
Since I moved to Houston eighteen years ago, I’ve lived in Montrose. So I would not conceive living elsewhere or opening a business elsewhere. I walk everywhere, so that’s part of the reason. Also, for the kind of food we offer, you need a clientele that is very open and willing to try new things. Basically, Montrose has all that we needed.
2. What are some changes you’ve seen to the neighborhood since you moved here?
More of an international crowd moving to this area. When I first moved to Hyde Park, I think I was the only one who was not American. And now, there are people from everywhere in the world. There’s lots of new business, too, and lots of new houses. In a way, the new townhomes are not amazing, but they bring progress and they bring more people. It brings property values up.
3. Do you get a lot of business from the Houston B-Cycle Bike Share station?
Yes, we do actually. We get a lot of people who say they’ve never seen the restaurant, but they were using the bicycles and found it. We use them too.
4. And you’re now doing Saturday brunch?
We are. Our kitchen is so, so little that we used to have all morning on Saturday to prepare brunch on Sunday. So now we have a new 5am Friday shift to prep for brunch on Saturday. We’ll see what happens as we extend our hours behind the curtain.
5. So are you prepping foods that can be made in advance? Or?
No, everything we prep is to be served at the moment. What we prep a day in advance are the meats like carnitas and barbacoa because they take like eighteen hours on the stove. Those are the things we can prepare beforehand, but other than that everything has to be prepared fresh all the time.
6. How do you pick your specials of the week?
We have to go to the market late on [Friday] to see what they have available, in which case we will plan the whole menu of the week. It’s not that it’s a surprise, but we wait to see what’s available at the market, because it’s what is fresh from Mexico. So we publish our menus on Monday.
7. Your menu art and branding are really iconic. Who does your art?
My sister, Cecilia Beaven, based in Mexico City. She’s fairly young, but she’s known. And it gives our art continuity. We wanted to have an artsy space. Most people in Houston think of mariachi hats, paper flags, and sombreros when they think of a Mexican restaurant. But that’s not what you see in Mexico City. You know [Cuchara] is Mexican because of the food, but it’s a contemporary artsy space.
8. Is there anything we should know that Cuchara is doing soon? Or a fact about the restaurant?
Well, our kitchen is the only kitchen in town run by women only. All our cooks are moms, grandmas, aunts from Mexico. None of them really went to school to be chefs; they are just really good cooks. They make all the recipes; it’s all their own ideas. The comida corrida every day is by them. One guy asked us, “Did you kidnap all the moms in Mexico?” It was really funny.