Houston Coffee Shop Southside Espresso Bids an Unwilling Farewell to Montrose

Sean Marshall at Southside Espresso

Southside Espresso at 904 Westheimer in the same building as Uchi Houston — the former historic location of Felix Mexican Restaurant — is saying goodbye with a farewell party on Saturday, April 16 from 5 to 7 p.m. following its final day of business. It’s a bittersweet departure. While the shop has had a relatively long tenure in the space — a decade, as it opened in 2012 — owner Sean Marshall says the closing is not by choice.

Marshall and his wife, Michelle, opened the coffee shop after founding their own roastery and coffee bean brand, Fusion Beans, in their garage in 2007.

According to Sean, he first suspected that new property owner Radom Capital, and financier J.P. Morgan Capital, might not renew Southside Espresso’s lease when LaLaLand Kind Café, a Dallas-based coffee shop chain, set up shop directly across the street in one of Radom Capital’s other buildings. At that point, Marshall said he started trying to find out if Southside Espresso’s lease would be renewed, but didn’t get an answer for a few weeks. The situation became clear, though, when workmen came in to measure the space and said they were working for Uchi. Marshall says that after Southside Espresso closes, Uchi will expand into the space. (We’ve contacted a representative for Uchi to find out what the space will be used for, and when the expansion will take place. Additionally, we spoke with a representative and also left a phone message at Radom Capital to find out why the company refused to renew Southside Espresso’s lease and will update this article should we receive a response.)

fusion beans and southside espresso beverages
Fusion Beans coffee and Southside Espresso beverages on the little gravel patio outside the shop. Courtesy photo.

The decision to not renew Southside Espresso’s lease comes just as Marshall says business was bouncing back. “We struggled through COVID. We got PPP and EIDL loans. We struggled through Radom Capital’s construction of Montrose Collective — which was worse than COVID — and started to see a recovery. It’s bittersweet because this past month, the numbers were better than they’ve been for two years.”

At this point, the Marshalls’ financial lifeline is back to where it was: tied to their coffee roasting company, Fusion Beans. Sean is also planning on starting an espresso trailer and serving at pop-up locations, such as the Montrose Marketplace at 1001 Westheimer (where the center housing Spec’s and Half-Price Books was before it was demolished). “We’ll still have a physical presence, small may it be,” Sean said. He also hired High Key Creative to refresh the online branding and website.

Marshall says the best way to support Fusion Beans and the forthcoming Southside Espresso truck is by purchasing coffee beans online (the company ships nationwide) and keeping up with new developments online at the Fusion Beans and Southside Espresso Instagram accounts.

Editor’s note: an earlier version of this article misidentified the construction site that caused issues for Southside Espresso.

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