Award-Winning DJ Takes His Houston Bar Into the Coffee World — Updated
The Flat, located at 1701 Commonwealth in Montrose, is a laid-back neighborhood bar known for live DJ performances, especially of electronic and dance music. However, starting with a launch party at 11 a.m. on Saturday, November 18, the space is going to also be home to a daytime scene through a new concept called Sunny Coffee. It’s the idea of The Flat’s owner, DJ SUN (real name Andre J. E. Sam-Sin), a Dutch-born, Houston-based DJ and record producer who’s been named DJ of the Year by the Houston Press nine times. A plethora of fellow DJs will join him in entertaining guests at the launch party, including Sabinin, DJ Goodfat, Malcolm Bravo, Morgan Morgan, Bad.Idea, Jordy and ERA. There’s no admission fee, and “neighbors and friends, coffee- and music-lovers in the Montrose community are invited.”
Sunny Coffee will make its drinks with Cruiser Coffee, which is owned by industry veteran Keith Adkins who’s also known as a co-owner of Bohemeo’s. According to a press release, the variety of coffee beans carried will “mirror the broad spectrum of international flavors found in DJ SUN’s extensive record collection.” Baristas will serve classic espresso drinks, such as cappuccinos, lattes, macchiatos and cortados (it seems like The Flat White should be the official house drink) as well as cold brew. However, customers can customize drinks thanks to an assortment of syrups, such as caramel, hazelnut, mocha, lavender, spiced brown sugar and toffee.
Sunny Coffee won’t just serve coffee. It’s positioned as a day-drinking place, too, with cocktails available as soon as it opens at 11 a.m. The espresso will be employed in not only the coffee drinks but also the cocktails, such as the Abuelitas with Hornitos Anjeo tequila, chocolate agave, Mexican spices and espresso and the Café Guadalupe with Tres Generaciones Reposado, Grand Marnier, agave and espresso. The seemingly simple Dominicano is ideally geared to let the base spirit, Brugal 1888 rum, shine through, as the only other ingredients are Averna and espresso. Cocktails cost $12 or $13, depending on which you choose.
Sunny Coffee will also offer food. Starting with the launch party on Saturday, Louisiana native and chef Cory McLendon is bringing his “Everything French Toast” program for brunch from 11 a.m. until sold out. McLendon, who earned a culinary arts certificate from Culinary Institute LeNôtre and formerly worked at Uchi and Golfstrommen, is serving four different types of over-the-top French toast dishes. These include the Texas Monte Cristo brioche French toast sandwich stuffed with smoked brisket, chipotle gouda and a fried egg with tater tots and blackberry compote on the side for $17 and The Hot Honey with a fried chicken thigh doused in house hot honey sauce with chipotle gouda and a fried egg, also with tater tots alongside, for $16. The Flat will also have Carribean-style beef, pineapple and guava-and-cheese empanadas from nearby breakfast and brunch restaurant, Cucharita, and at 5 p.m., there will be a food truck onsite.
The environment is geared for remote workers and creative types — but it won’t be like a quiet library. Daytime live music is on the horizon and DJ SUN is hoping that will be inspirational. “Our offering won’t be in the very traditional sense of a workspace. It’s built around some performances that we feature, such as live jazz on Fridays from noon to 3 p.m., but the music is mostly background. Additionally, we think that some art- and design-related jobs allow for and even encourage music as inspiration, perhaps. Also: the patio can offer a quieter environment,” he explained via email.
DJ SUN worked with Gin Designs, which has designed or refreshed numerous Houston restaurants, to create a midcentury-style lounge within the Flat’s 2,500 square feet of space.
Sunny Coffee at The Flat will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. However, the Flat itself stays open until 2 a.m. and will serve the aforementioned espresso-based cocktails through the night.
DJ Sun hopes the new coffee offerings and earlier hours will be a benefit to the neighborhood, saying, “The Flat has always been a place where friends and neighbors can come together, and with our new expanded hours, coffee program, and chef partners, we’re bringing a rare mix of coffee, music, and culinary options to our community.
Updated, 11/16/2023, 2:28 p.m.: Added information regarding food options for the debut event.
Phaedra Cook has written about Houston’s restaurant and bar scene since 2010. She was a regular contributor to My Table magazine (now closed) and was the lead restaurant critic for the Houston Press for two years, eventually being promoted to food editor. Cook founded Houston Food Finder in November 2016 and has been its editor and publisher ever since.