My Montrose: David Buehrer, Blacksmith
David Buehrer is the owner of Blacksmith coffee house on Westheimer, as well as the Greenway Coffee Company.
How did you first get into the restaurant industry?
I started making coffee when I was 16 at Shakespeare’s Coffee Bar in South Houston, and really kind of never stopped. I loved feeling [like] a part of the community I was living in. Just being a part of people’s day, getting to know everyone. Some people I probably saw more than their family did. You become part of their daily routine. So that’s when I knew I wanted to work in coffee. It wasn’t easy to make it a career, I had to work really hard.
How did you expand from focusing on coffee to opening cafes and restaurants?
I’m a big foodie, I like to eat good food. The neighborhood I grew up in had a large Vietnamese community, and I was just draw to the cuisine. I loved it from an early age. Vietnamese food turned me into a foodie. So I wanted to meld the food experiences that I was seeking with the coffee experiences we were producing. That’s where Blacksmith came from.
How did you choose the location for Blacksmith when you opened it in 2013?
It’s funny, because in 2009 I was driving around looking at different locations. I remember driving around all day and the number one location for a coffee shop in Houston was Mary’s. And i was like, that will never close. Mary’s is an institution. It’s the ultimate spot for a coffee shop—right in the middle of the cultural center of Houston, which is Montrose. And then it closed in 2010. It sat on the market for 18 months before my business partner and I decided to buy it.
There’s a wonderful community that’s grown up around Blacksmith. How did that come about?
It’s a lot of work building communities. And it’s really part of the foundation of the business to house creatives, and to support them as they’ve supported us. A lot of time that’s missing from the equation–reaching out, being inclusive.
What are some examples of how you do that?
For one thing, we recognized that there was a community of entrepreneurs and artists growing up inside of Blacksmith, so we allowed a couple of them to open pop-up shops inside the cafe.
Are you considering opening another spot in Montrose?
Definitely. We’re actually the operating partners at Inversion—we started operating that about three years ago, and that’s been a really enriching experience. They have a terrific group of staff and community. We focus on art over there—local artists, artmongers. Right now we have a really cool customer of ours named Katie who collects midcentury art, and she’s got a really crazy display at Inversion right now.
Blacksmith. 1018 Westheimer Blvd. 832-360-7470. blacksmithhouston.com