UPDATED: Some Members of the Hyde Park Civic Association Don't Like Their New Neighbors, Underbelly and Hay Merchant

Categories: News

HayMerchBar-thumb-560x420.jpg
Photo by Mai Pham
The bar at Hay Merchant has been packed since Day One.
UPDATE: Bobby Heugel, co-owner of Hay Merchant, contacted us and requested that we publish his unedited response to the situation. You'll find it on page two of this post in its entirety, along with our own response.

Maybe the guests at Chances and Mary's were quieter back in their days, or maybe Montrose residents have short memories these days. Either way, the Hyde Park Civic Association apparently isn't a fan of its newest neighbors -- Underbelly and Hay Merchant, the new restaurant and craft beer bar duo at Westheimer and Waugh -- and plans to do something about it.

According to the Hyde Park United Civic Association's Facebook page (a private group; we've kept the names of the residents private here as well), they plan to protest a recent notice from the City of Houston that would allow Underbelly and Hay Merchant -- which the Facebook page calls "Hay Market" -- to have an on-street valet parking zone.

"This notice was sent to residents located within 200 feet of the proposed zone," said the Facebook update, which sparked a litany of complaints below.

Wrote one neighborhood resident:

I asked an employee parked in front of my house why he didn't park at the restaurant and he said the manager told employees not to park in their lots but to park on the streets (in front of our homes!). We had to call the police early Sunday morning because four restaurant employees were having a tailgate party in the 2600 block of Yoakum. They were totally obnoxious and drinking straight from 32 oz. bottles. The female urinated in a recessed alcove of a neighbor's property. All were wearing their uniforms with the restaurant logo - so their affiliation was pretty obvious.

When reached for comment, Hay Merchant co-owner Kevin Floyd said that Underbelly staff don't wear branded T-shirts, and only Hay Merchant staff wear shirts with identifying logos on them. It seemed unlikely to him that his employees would throw an impromptu tailgate and HPD shows no record of such a complaint on file.

Parking seemed to be the biggest complaint, however, with many residents chiming in about not only Underbelly and Hay Merchant, but also the new Legacy Community Health Services Building, in a new building that replaced a long-vacant structure which had been a club/bar on and off for years.

"Completely agree with everyone's frustration!" wrote another resident. "Between Legacy and Underbelly/Hay Merchant, we have very little parking for guests and residents at Commonwealth at California."

A valet parking permit, Floyd explained, would allow Underbelly and Hay Merchant to pack patrons' cars into both of their lots and leave far fewer cars on the street as a result.

Ironically, it's Floyd and Bobby Heugel -- both partners at Hay Merchant and its sister bar, Anvil -- who have been some of the most vocal advocates for better parking arrangements and public transportation in the city's more densely populated areas. The men even went so far as to found a non-profit to tackle such issues, OKRA.

"One of our goals," said Floyd, "beyond serving the best beer and food we can, is to help the greater Houston community grow. We take pride in having good relationships with our neighbors. It was our open communication with the local community that helped make Anvil the fixture that it is and it is my hope that the same will be true about Hay Merchant."

As an example, he added: "Recently, one of the residents that lives behind us pointed out that our parking lot light was shining into his living room. As soon as he told me about it, we disconnected it until we could find a better solution. As long as we talk to each other we can always find a solution. "

As demonstrated time and again, the parking issue in Houston's urban core is only going to get worse -- especially in rapidly growing areas like Montrose -- unless the City irons out the many kinks in its proposed Off-Street Parking Ordinance. At least one Hyde Park resident sees it that way, too:

"The City of Houston is to blame here," he wrote. "Any world class city has a parking strategy that includes municipal parking. Sadly Houston fails miserably here. That needs to change if Houston is to be even close to world class."

UPDATE: Bobby Heugel, co-owner of Hay Merchant, contacted us and requested that we publish his unedited response to the situation. You'll find it below in its entirety, along with our own response.

Location Info

Underbelly

1100 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

The Hay Merchant

1100 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX

Category: Music


Advertisement

My Voice Nation Help
111 comments
Celadon9
Celadon9

Oh holy crap. Settle down, have a pint and take the edge off. Or go grab a can of Bud Light and take the edge off. Business is business, and Houston is one Big Ass Car Town. If a few more would walk or bike a few blocks (granted, at the risk of being run over and maimed) it wouldn't be such a big deal, and y'all would have such beer guts. Work it out people. And if some chick is dropping' trou & pissing in your yard, just take a picture! Hyde Park my ass! It's still The Montrose you snot nosed little bitches. And if some young woman is drunk enough to be pissing in public, I; for one, would want to be sure she made it home or to a safer place in one piece. THAT is why it's called a "neighborhood" & not "the hood" or a "gated community"

Hclark
Hclark

Go Bobby Go!  With ya main!

Guest
Guest

Bobby Heugel is always Jesus Christ crucified.

EMME
EMME

Oh my.  I used to live behind Empire Cafe.  In fact my house is now the extended parking lot for Empire Cafe.  I had no problems with people parking in front of my house.  When I considered the night clubs that could be there instead, I counted my blessings.  I knew going in, the proximity to the street.  Some people don't know when to be grateful and when to protest.  This should be a gratitude moment.  They could be living behind Belvedere or any of the other "douche" bars on Washington Ave.    

Jon
Jon

I wish the press would focus more on how ridiculous it is for some residents to demand that certain public streets be reserved for their personal use, instead of always portraying business owners and their customers as villains. These are PUBLIC STREETS, and I along with anyone else should be able to drive and park on them whenever we damned well please - legally. These parking restrictions and permits that privatize public streets should be illegal. I lived in Cherryhurst for seven years, and now live off Washington, so I've lived in  the hotbeds for all this nonsense. I'm sick and tired of HOA's and City Councilmembers taking away my rights to use public streets because some entitled ninnies who chose to live in the densest parts of a 600+ sq. mile city, instead of say, Kingwood, are so outraged that others want to use the streets in "their" neighborhoods. If they want private streets, they should move to gated communities.

guest1
guest1

People just want to be negative these days and act like they are experts on everything. Everybody I know that lives in that area tells me how wonderful it is because it's so close to restaurants and bars. Every place is close to someones residence. I guess they just get pissed when it's THEIR RESIDENCE, but have no problem partying next to someone else's residence.

Joseph
Joseph

Wow SHILLcut got called out!!! About time would'nt you say?

rogerscorpion
rogerscorpion

I don't understand the statement <A valet parking permit, Floyd explained, would allow Underbelly and Hay Merchant to pack patrons' cars into both of their lots and leave far fewer cars on the street as a result.> They have carte blanche to pack their own parking lots now---don't they? It's the adjacent streets, which are the concern. I have an anecdote, I received from a woman I met, who lived near Gravitas--which recently closed on Taft. She said the valets were packing cars in very close to their driveways, making it hard to get in & out. Her street's homeowners took action. They got enough input from residents that, now, 'parking only by permit' signs were posted.  Problem solved (for the residents). I suggest lots more streets do that. 

MoreParkingMoreDrinking
MoreParkingMoreDrinking

I just want to know where these fabled four lots and 300 parking spaces are. 

I know about the tiny lot behind the building and the lot across the street behind what will be Blacksmith (the former Mary's). Where are these other two parking lots? Or are the other two lots some of the valet lots he talks about paying for? 

Maybe some signage or PR or something about where you CAN park for Hay Merchant/Underbelly would help alleviate part of the problem.

Desoto4jim
Desoto4jim

Bobby summed it up...Katharine jumped the gun...but the reporter always gets the last word in.  She gave him no credit at all for trying to do something positive.

GlenW
GlenW

I live in Hyde Park, but far enough away that our street is only affected by Rudyard's. So as for this story: Omg, we live in a city? People we don't know can park on the street and inconvience our friends?Really?More onstreet parking on Waugh and Commonwealth might help. Hell, the city could place nighttime meters!Now, people drinking late at night in front of anyone's house is NOT ok. Maybe a few more police, such as a foot patrol would help.Maybe I am oversimplifying things. Oh well.

OK
OK

I live about 10 blocks north, so the parking has no effect on me. However, I live close enough to W. Gray and Montrose to understand that if any restaurants open nearby, parking will likely overflow onto my street or adjacent streets. I moved into the Montrose knowing this and have frequently encountered the stubborn behavior of my Hyde Park neighbors.

I thoroughly enjoy Hay Merchant and am happy to be able to walk there. I sympathize with the neighbors experiencing problems. However, if parking is really such a big issue, Montrose is probably not a sutiable long-term neighborhood for them.

Girltr8der
Girltr8der

I say get over it.  We live near several bars:  Meteor, F Bar and Union.  Patrons park all over and out in front of our home.  Yes, sometimes they are loud, sometimes a bit rowdy and probably a bit drunk.  You knew the area when you moved here - we did too, which is WHY we live here, near the good restaurants and entertainment.  If you want quiet and access to the Red Lobster move to the f*ucking 'burbs. 

H_e_x
H_e_x

Pageviews have to play some sort of role in the blog game. Surely someone with extremely low pageviews would be let go.But anyway, parking in that area is horrible. There isn't enough space for large parking lots, so the neighborhoods have to adsorb a big portion of traffic. That being said, other cities manage to live with it, maybe the people in Montrose have to learn to live with it as well. If they won't, then all restaurants and bars need to close down and Montrose can be turned into a island of bland suburbia in the city.

Sanguinario
Sanguinario

Whatta senseless, dickhead rant against EOW. It's clear as day that everybody commenting here agrees that there are parking issues in Montrose. And especially around the newly-anointed HM and Underbelly. And if the customers of these places bitch about such parking probs, it's fairly self-evident that the residents themselves might feel more than a pang of annoyance with the situation. And even complain aloud. In public.So, Katharine Shilcutt was, what, wrong to bring this up? Without first contacting the in-house PR person for HM/Underbelly? And then waiting for a two-page, slick-willy diatribe reply against reporting something negative? Because she didn't do an in-depth investigation?Please, gimme a break.

This is news. Just as much as how great the food and beer and ambiance and design is, blah blah blah. Pls: Grow some stones. The parking issue isn't about YOU. 

dream
dream

These guys, Hay Merchant, Anvil, Underbelly are working hard and they are doing the right thing. I agree with Heugel that the blog post, "jumped the gun" and HP rushed to the story and led with an over zealous title to the blog post. HP is always in a hurry to throw gas on a fire and lead with shock and awe, it's just their style. I understand Heugel's frustration with HP and respect the way they are dealing with their neighbors and community in general. If he didn't give a shit he wouldn't or written the response. HP should pick on someone else who does not care about Houston and the future of Montrose. 

Dream

american history X
american history X

well, well, well...what do we have here? a family fucking feud. the irresistible force versus the immovable fat-ass object. pimp versus ho. and someone is about to get bitch slapped with a righteous backhand.

this is absolutely hilarious. the so-called HP food editor fails to ask permission and kiss the ring of her all mighty leader before over-zealously overstepping her bounds.

haven't you watched The Godfather? never tell anyone outside the family what you're thinking again!

just like jumping to conclusions over a alleged abuse of police power at the expense of The Modular, without witnesses or police reports, you rush to judgment. but this time you presumably picked the wrong snake oil salesman to fuck with.

and the real beauty of this? cocktail boy lowers himself to your level by using this rag as a platform to air his laundry. huegel: a few words of advice. you're too young, cocky and inexperienced to handle a situation like this with class. rise above it. don't legitimize this rag by using it as a soap box. and while you're at it, lower your prices.

unfortunately, this little lovers spat won't change anything. it's temporary. fools will still buy overpriced drinks. minions will still defend shicutt's assertions. and the two at the center of this will one day soon again be sucking each other's dicks. all while laughing at those they manipulate. YOU.

nord
nord

I like sheep. As food. 

KING
KING

Fuck it. I'm going to Petrol Station.

Grantg
Grantg

""Our news coverage is not focused on what will gain us the most pageviews, but rather what our readers are most concerned about and interested in.""

Sure sure.........what a rag.  Always has been.  Ditch the valet and let people pay for parking again, then see how many cars are parked in front of the Hyde park homes.......  BH and his group are one of the few conscience business groups out there.  Between the "everyone is a foodie" or "I'm going to give my yelp on this or that"...I just wish people would quite looking for acknowledgment and how many "like" its, or "retweet" its they get - self rightous BS.  Get back to talking people...put the Iphones down and discuss the lastest book you read.....wow, maybe forget that last one....not sure many of the youth today even read anymore.  That would take patience and no one would be patting them on the back for it.

Not sure where this whole comment of mine went too but anyway.....HP is still sloppy.

CMN
CMN

 Re: Heugel's response

IMO, Anvil and Hay Merchant are two of the best food + drink additions to Montrose, Houston for that matter, in decades.  From what I can tell, Heugel and Floyd do an excellent job of running the businesses as responsible, conscientious members of the greater community.

That said, Heugel seems a bit of a prick and a bit too impressed with himself.  His response is one of a self satisfied, entitled, child.  If you're not in the wrong, shut up and go about your business and this too shall pass.  Rather, he's thrown more flame on the exact fire he claims to want out.

Bradg
Bradg

I'm really confused about Bobby Heugel's defensive response...I don't see where EOW was attacking him or his businesses.  If anyone should be defensive it should be our mayor and city council for this ongoing cluster fuck of parking fuckupidness.  

PB
PB

I live in Hyde Park, and I commented on this Facebook thread that complains about parking, stating that in my opinion the neighbors close to Westheimer should petition for one side of the street to be residents only, with permits, with the other side as public parking.  They do this in nearby neighborhoods, and it seems to work well.  I personally, love both Hay Merchant and Underbelly, and I'm glad I can walk to both, but there is a significant problem with parking/traffic in this neighborhood however, and it isn't going to get any better any time soon. I don't blame the owners (too much -- they had to know that little lot wasn't going to support two businesses here), and I would love to see some sort of storied parking in this area.  Perhaps whoever buys the stripmall at Westheimer and Montrose that is currently for sale can put in a multi-level garage?????  One can dream.

Corey
Corey

In other news residents recently come to the conclusion their excrement doesn't stink...

Kylejack
Kylejack

How far would the valet zone extend? I would prefer for street parking to be available to whoever comes along (be it resident, bar customer, whoever).

Quinn Olivarez
Quinn Olivarez

The solution here is increased public transportation usage and availability, but Houstonians are strangely uneasy about taking Metro anywhere. You don't live near a Metro stop (ie within 3 blocks)? They have bike racks, or you can take a cab to your nearest Metro stop. Why do most people in other large cities use public transportation? Because parking is a nightmare, and Houston is becoming very much like Chicago in that regard. 

If you choose to live in Montrose, you should have other options in mind. Complaining about the public use of public streets, however, is a step in the wrong direction.

That being said, Metro needs to seriously ramp up their bus service in the area. The 81/82 Westheimer line runs at a fine frequency, but the 34 (Montrose Crosstown) and 78 (W. Alabama Irvington) need to run a lot more routes. The 34, I believe, stops at 7 and doesn't run on weekends. Never understood why it runs so infrequently. This bus provides access to every inhabited end of Montrose from Bissonnet to W. Gray (making access to many bars supremely easy), crosses Washington, and goes in to the Heights if you're looking for fun up there. That's just bizarre, considering the bus goes from Rice University / Med Center area, through Westheimer, W Gray, down S. Heights all the way to the other end of the Heights.

jx
jx

These ARE douche bars.

Aparatchic
Aparatchic

she gets called out all the time. by similar people, making similar nonsensical claims, which usually reduce to: you hurt my feelings. you hurt my business. therefore you're not professional. journalism is going/has gone to hell.

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

 I hope I'm not screwing myself for mentioning this, but the side street right behind El Real is free street parking.  I've been parking there for years.

Joseph
Joseph

Desoto4jim HIT IT ON THE NAIL.....SHILLcut please try at MINIMUM to gain some credibility back....you obviously don't care anymore

Mister Kay
Mister Kay

Police foot patrols....now ther's a novel idea !

ec
ec

So telling your employees to park in the street instead of the businesses' parking is the respectful way to deal with their neighbors???  I don't think so.  They are just like any other business.  While you've been brainwashed, it's pretty clear to me what's going on.

Vonmecklenburg1
Vonmecklenburg1

American History X,

subtract the substance from your overly stylized writing and your left with this:

Wyatt
Wyatt

Jesus, you're acting like a food blogger killed your parents in front of you. Chill the fuck out, Conan. Quit being a god damn drama queen.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

So, does this make me the "immovable fat-ass object" in question? And am I the pimp or the ho in this analogy? Either way, I'll have you know that I recently downloaded a calorie counter on my iPhone and used it! FOR A WHOLE WEEK.

Lance
Lance

"lower your prices" -- honestly, how's Huegel gonna pay for all his parking lots if he does this... LOL!

Booboo
Booboo

...so is this comment.

SAA
SAA

S.O.P.

'stina
'stina

I live in Hyde Park too, and I left the facebook page about a year ago because the majority of threads seemed to be complaints about the neighborhood. 

I love the neighborhood, but I will admit that I do tend to walk to El Real or Red Oak or Anvil instead of facing parking in that part of the 'hood, and I haven't even ventured to try Hay Merchant or Underbelly because of the hype/crowds.  I'll let the buzz die down a bit before walking over.

Michael_jozwiak
Michael_jozwiak

I agree; First come, first serve. On the Richmond Strip many moons ago, my friend declined valet parking and parked on the street. When his party returned to his vehicle, all four tires were slashed. No way it could have been the valet parking.

Jason Bainbridge
Jason Bainbridge

The problem is the majority of those that take metro are the poor to get to and from their place of employment so the routes that are convenient to enhance urban living don't get that ridership and hence don't run as frequently. I do frequently take Metro and have to walk a considerable distance when I do but you know what I don't mind, not even when it is in the middle of summer, your body adapts and is all the better for the exercise.

A lot of people in Houston just need to get over whatever preconceived issues they have with Metro as more likely than not their preconceptions are completely wrong.

dream
dream

I own a business in Montrose and I tell my employees to park on the street and not in the center next to my business. I want those space available for my customers. It's just smart business and the street is public space with no parking restrictions. I live 2 streets from the Village and my street was packed with cars last weekend for St. Pattys day, lots of employees from the bars/restaurants park on my street so I know what you are dealing with. It's a trade off, I get to walk to the Village and live near Rice University but I have to put up with street parking from employees and customers of the bars in the Village. I'm not brainwashed I just know that I do not own the street in front of my house and that anyone can park there. 

Dream

Grantg
Grantg

It was a bit sloopy wasn't it Booboo.  I agree. 

I am sorry I hurt your feelings - go ahead and continue to yelp about your gas station donut and coffee as Houston is waiting for your next review with baited breath. 

PB
PB

 Cool.  we walk to Anvil a lot and El Real for Montrose Mondays.  We went to underbelly at about 6pm on a Sunday and ate in the bar area and we were all alone.  It was also the best all around meal I've had in a long time, and we don't even eat meat (outside of gulf seafood).

Michael_jozwiak
Michael_jozwiak

Riding Metro can be an adventure. In 1996, I rode Metro for a total of about 4 1/2 months. My life was threatened twice; once by a drunk and another time by a man about a quarter of a century older than me.

Riding Metro was time-consuming especially since I like to be on-time at work and other places. I thought I was going to lose fitness because of the time consumption, but with walking fast a few blocks at a time to bus stops and sprinting downtown streets trying to catch early arriving buses, I kept my fitness. Those were the days!!

ec
ec

I never said they did.  But IF a business really trying to respect  the neighbors, they would make an effort.  Telling your employees to park on the streets is doing the opposite.

Wyatt
Wyatt

Sorry, the neighbors don't own those streets.

ec
ec

Yes it's smart business for YOU but sure doesn't respect the neighbors.  Is it illegal, no of course notl

Wyatt
Wyatt

It's "bated" breath, Mr. Reader.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...