People Of Montrose Who Made Headlines For The Right Reasons In 2014
From chic cat ladies to empire builders, Montrose was full of exceptional people in 2014. While in no way could each and every person that was important to Montrose be named in one article, here are a select few that made the headlines for the best of reasons last year. Cheers to you all and a happy new year.
The most lovable, entertaining and uplifting Houstonian just so happens to be from Montrose, and he just so happened to have a huge year in 2014. Juan Carlos Restrepo — more widely known simply as Juan Carlos the Rollerblade Dancer — debuted nationally on America’s Got Talent. Not only did his star burn a little brighter for the rest of the world to see, but his fun-loving, booty-shaking spirit was infectious. In addition to making it to a semi-final round of the show in New York City, Juan Carlos was officially recognized by the City of Houston for his unique rollerblade dancing skills. Though his regular dance spot near Allen Parkway and Montrose is still his favorite, it’s nice to see him spread the joy of dancing to a wider audience.
Restaurants may come and go, but Claire Smith’s Canopy has remained a Montrose fixture since its opening in 2009, with a sister restaurant Shade serving the Heights for over a decade now. In other words, as chef/owner of both places, Smith has staying power. A savvy businesswoman in addition to an impeccable chef, Smith had an interesting year as she expanded Canopy to include Woodbar, a coffeeshop/bar hybrid with fresh pastries, craft cocktails and gourmet bar bites. All the more impressive is that during the middle of this expansion, a car drove through the property, damaging the storefront, but construction continued and Woodbar still opened just before the end of 2014.
DJ Sun, aka Andre Sam-Sin
A fitting DJ name for a man who truly feels like a ray of sunlight in a literal dark room, Andre Sam-Sin is much more than just a musician. An entire community has been built around DJ Sun’s music and endeavors, and recently, when he became a managing partner at The Flat, it became a physical community. (You can find him spinning there many nights, though the talent he books is equally enthralling.) In addition to founding the KPFT show Soular Grooves two decades ago, DJ Sun is just a really great guy. For these reasons, and many more, he was an inductee into the Houston Press’ Houston Music Hall of Fame in 2014. For additional details, check out this Houston Press tribute from July of last year.
The unofficial king of Montrose, Westheimer in particular, Shawn Bermudez and his businesses are rocking the neighborhood, and that empire will expand this year as well. Currently under his wing are Pistolero’s, Boondocks, Stone’s Throw (opened in 2014), Royal Oak Bar & Grill, Pavement, Leopard Lounge, Taxi Taxi and the upcoming Burger Joint (announced in 2014). Only time will tell how much of Lower Westheimer and beyond will be added to the Bermudez Triangle, but if he continues his string of successes, it can only be a good thing for the neighborhood.
Last year was huge for fashion designer David Peck. Not only did he move his flagship to a gorgeous new location in the heart of Montrose, but he was also chosen as the official designer for the new JW Marriott hotel that opened in downtown. As a result, the hotel staff are dressed to the nines (or in this case, they look so good it might be appropriate to say they’re dressed to the tens) in their custom-designed uniforms that are chic, flattering and locally made. Looks like Peck is just getting started. Watch out 2015, it’s going to be a fashionable year for the neighborhood with a world-class fashion designer at its helm.
Haven’t heard of Diane Lovejoy yet? If you’re into cats and feel like that “cat lady” label is a little outdated, you should know her name. Proving that cat ladies aren’t just special, but even chic, Lovejoy has written a book — a follow up to her similarly themed Cat Lady Chronicles from 2012 — that extols the virtues of women living alone with their cats (she cites Katy Perry and Taylor Swift as just a few). Not only has Cat Lady Chic been extremely well received, but according to a Chronicle article, a second printing has been ordered to “accommodate a large order by a national retail chain.” In addition to her literary success, Lovejoy is also the publications director at The Museum of Fine Arts and a Montrose resident.
Even people that don’t follow the budding Montrose restaurant scene know the name Chris Shepherd, because it’s been tossed around in national media for a couple of years now. Chef Shepherd is behind the critically acclaimed restaurant Underbelly, not to mention a huge Texans fan and all-around nice guy. He brought plenty of hometown (and neighborhood) pride to the James Beard Awards ceremony in New York City this year when he accepted the honor of Best Chef Southwest. Congrats to Shepherd and his fellow Montrose nominee — who could very well bring home the award to Montrose for the second year in a row — Hugo Ortega of Hugo’s.