The 40-year old Montrose restaurant located behind Montrose Mining Company has new owners.
Baba Yega Cafe announced enlist week that developer Fred Sharifi has purchased the restaurant from owner Sidney Hakim. Sharif recently acquired the Meteor nightclub property.
As Montrose is growing as Houston’s elite dining area, Baba Yega held on to the simple. The restaurant’s sprawling patio and courtyard transport diners away from the city. The $25 Sunday brunch buffet has become a neighborhood institution, according to Culture Map.
All of the current employees, many of whom have worked there for 20 years or more, have been told they will keep their jobs.
Houston is one of the most amazing and spectacular cities in America. It is filled with many fascinating individuals in a varity of races, sizes, genders, and personalities. Fascinating people have a special magnetism and their energy radiates outward.
But what exactly makes them so captivating? Is it their curiosity to explore outside the ‘norm,’ or that they are always there to lend a ‘voice’ to a cause or advocate for what is needed?
Fascinating people try new things. They do what interests them; to better a cause. They know what needs to be done and are brave enough to take the steps to get there. They are engaging, unusual, and hypnotizing. The passion they spill we hope leaks onto us and spills in to the streets of our community.
Houston is home to millions of people that are fascinating, and we could never know them all but, we are proud to honor the ten that we have had the privilege to meet.
1. Fran Watson President, GLBT Houston Political Caucus
Fran is a native Houstonian whose passion for equality, equal dignity, and fair treatment for everyone makes her one of our most fascinating people in Houston.
As the President of the GLBT Houston Political Caucus, the South’s oldest civil rights organization dedicated to advancing gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender rights through the endorsement of pro-equality political candidates. She also serves on the board of Stonewall Law Association of Greater Houston. She serves on the Executive Board of the Houston chapter of New Leaders Council (NLC). Additionally, she is a member of the newly formed NLC4 Women’s Caucus, a committee of women from across the country seeking to promote an agenda of equality for women.
Originally from Tarkington, Texas, Victoria now is a proud resident of Houston. She has personally branded herself, her image, and her transgender activist duties as The Duchess of Montrose.
As the first transgender model for Pride Houston’s Rock the Runway, Victoria is using her knowledge to help inform the community with any questions they have and create a conversation about transgender identity.
Victoria’s heart, her activism, and her tireless efforts working with many different LGBTQ+ organizations makes her one of the most fascinating people in Houston.
3.Cristina Wells Winner of Pride Superstar
As the newly crowned voice of Pride Superstar 2016, Cristina is one fascinating diva. She is a proud Houstonian, and a registered nurse by trade. But most of all, she is proud.
As a public figure that is proudly a woman who is plus-size, mixed race, loud, a mother, a nurse, a singer, and a lesbian. She stood up, and fought for all the people that relate to her.
“I have always been told “no”,” Cristina says. “Winning Pride Superstar feels like the culmination of years of being told no, being told I am too big for the costumes or that I don’t look the part.”
4.Nathan de Paz President of Bunnies on The Bayou
Nathan is currently the president of Bunnies on the Bayou, Inc. – Houston’s largest social fundraising event on Easter Sunday benefiting local organizations who’s focus on the LGBTQ community. Since 2011, Bunnies has made over $670,000 in donations.
In Nathans lifetime, he has worked as a mattress salesman, a corporate marketing specialist, opera singer, public school teacher, a page-turner for pianists, and as private instructor for beginning singers.
He is an enthusiast for his local community and LGBTQ issues.
5.Susan Christian Mayors Office of Special Events
The mayor’s director of special events for the City of Houston, and has been with the city for more than 30 years. She moved to Houston from the small central-Texas town of Hico.
Since taking the head of the dictor’s office, she’s developed the mayor’s civic celebration program into a year-round blockbuster, with 3.6 million people attending over 1,000 annual events. If you’ve ever enjoyed the Fourth of July Freedom Over Texas celebration, Thanksgiving Day parade, or the Children’s Festival, then you’ve got Christian to thank. Because of her amazing dedication and service to Houston for these fascinating events, we believe Susan has earned her place in our list of ten.
6.Ashton Woods Civil Rights Activist
Ashton is a proud Houston-based activist and blogger. He is a gay atheist and “unapologetically black.” While none of these things completely define him, they highlight his multiple identities and he works to remind others that being black is not monolithic. In Ashton’s’ view, justice must be intersectional and nowhere is this walk the talk more evident than his involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement.
His ever-lasting support and volunteering for many different projects is why Ashton is one of Houston’s most fascinating people.
7.Travis Shirley Artist & Visionary
Travis Shirley has quickly gained worldwide recognition for his fresh perspective on all aspects of lighting, set and video design. After attending the world-famous ‘Fullsail University’ in Florida, Travis launched his Houston based company ‘Travis Shirley Lighting Design.’
This master of digital vision art led him to Enrique Iglesias, Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, Jason Derulo, Smashing Pumpkins, Pentatonics, and many more allowing him to take their concert fans on a magical journey expressed by his art.
It is because of this, Travis Shirley is one fascinating person.
8.Aike Jamal Creative Artist
There is no doubt his designs are award winning, and his talent in singing is beyond this world. Aike is a master at creativity, and his skills are brought to life for the Houston community through the creative designs you see in F Bar Houston, and the soon to open Jimmy Chew’s. His undenying dedication for supporting the LGBTQ+ community through many different non-profits makes this artist something for the history books.
Aike is a graduate of the University of Houston, and his creative endeavors is what makes him one fascinating person.
9.Jeffery Harmon Business Owner & Visionary
Jeff Harmon moved to Houston in 1998. He explains that he has worked in the service industry his entire adult life, and felt it was time to do something. His quest took him to Bryan | College Station, Texas to open the first LGBTQ+ nightclub there in 2003, and later a restaurant in 2006.
In 2016, another vision led Jeffery to re-launch of one of Houston’s iconic nightclubs. This massive undertaking is a reason that makes Jeffery fascinating.
Another passion for Harmon is the LGBTQ+ community and the many non-profits he works with.
10.Jeffry Faircloth Advocate
Jeffry is self described as a theology nerd, an LGBT advocate and a history student. He’s an unorthodox Christian, and a Judy Garland fan. He’s also the co-President of the Houston PFLAG, and a member of the Mayor’s Office LGBTQ+ Advisory Board.
Once a member of Houston’s HATCH Program, Jeffry has been able to experience the LGBTQ+ community from many different angles and apply his support where it is much needed.
His strong support for LGBTQ+ youth, and their families is what makes him one fascinating Houstonian.
(Cade Michals, Nathan Neel and Blake Casey all contributed to this article)
Houston Pride Week runs from June 19 to 26. For a full events calendar, visit pridehouston.org.
What is the significance of Pride Week this year coming so close after the tragedy in Orlando?It was definitely a tragic incident that happened in Orlando, and it reminds us why we do what we do, and why we have Pride, which is to celebrate our culture, our lives.
What are the events this year that you’re most excited about?We have a whole bunch of events. We have Eden, a party for the women in our community. We have Pride Superstar, which has been running for several weeks now; we’ll crown a winner this week. This is that event’s tenth season. We have our Rock the Runway fashion show. The one I’m most excited about, obviously, is our all-day Houston LGBT Pride Celebration on June 25th that culminates with the Pride Parade downtown.
Last year the Pride Parade moved from Montrose to downtown Houston. How is that move working out so far? Last year we had the Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage, which obviously helped our attendance. And even though we had the tragedy in Orlando, we’re expecting a big turnout this year as well. What we’re seeing is an outpouring of individuals going, ‘You know, I wasn’t planning on coming, but after this past Sunday we need to unite.’ So I think this is going to be our biggest Pride ever. We’re definitely going to break last year’s record.
What will that say about the community’s resilience and unity in the wake of tragedy?Quite simply, that we won’t let fear control us anymore. We’ve come too far in our fight for equality to just go back in the closet. We’re going to keep going, we’re going to fight on, and we’re going to continue being proud of who we are.
Even though the parade’s downtown, most of Pride Week’s other events will be held in Montrose. How important is the neighborhood to the LGBT community here?Montrose will always be the heart of our community. But the community isn’t just in one specific area anymore, it’s all over. We have people in Montrose, we have people in the suburbs. We’re spread out all over. So home is wherever we are.
Even if many LGBT people live elsewhere, what is it about Montrose that draws them back?Well, a good concentration of the nightclubs and bars that we like to go to are here. We have some on the outskirts as well, but most of them are here. We have George’s, we have JR’s, and even Rich’s is coming back now.
Over your years living in Houston, how have you seen attitudes towards the LGBT community change?I think as we’ve become more mainstream, it’s helped the LGBT community. We’re all over TV, we’re all over the news, we’re fighting for our rights. So we’ve become part of an open conversation rather than a behind closed doors conversation, especially with the huge transgender rights movement that’s happening around the world right now.
A Local Montrose Business Has Painted The Side Of Their Business In Pride Colors To Support The Victims Of Orlando And Show Support For The Community!
A local business at 1641 Westheimer Rd. has gone rainbow, as a crew of local artists descended on the wall to make it ‘proud.’ High End Smoke Shop, in part with Select Skate Shop, wanted to express their support for the devastating Orlando attack against the LGBTQ+ community, for Montrose, and for Pride.
Local artist KC Chan, Eric Nguyen, and Al Nguyen, were commissioned by High End and Select to transform the wall into a ‘symbol’ of love, equality, and support. A wall to share their support.
The newly painted ‘Pride’ wall faces Pavement Clothing and was originally grey with the ‘Select’ logo. It now shines bright with a cast of rainbow colors.
“We wanted to show our support for Orlando” artist KC Chan stated to About News on Friday. “It’s meant to allow people to take photos, and show their pride,”Chan added.
The wall is approximately 56 feet long and 16 foot tall. Visit the wall.