It's tough to peg Deep Ellum's newest resident, Drugstore Cowboy. The shop's shtick is, well, a little bit of everything. There's coffee in the morning, booze in the evening and a selection of bites around the clock, as well as the occasional bit of live music.
Drugstore Cowboy is the product of a partnership between Dallas transplants Emma Saperstein and Toby Wright, and local Matthew Madison. Each one brings different expertise to the table, which is why the business seemingly does everything.
It's a concept for "working during the day and socializing at night," Saperstein told GuideLive last fall.
Drugstore Cowboy was originally slated for an October opening, but was pushed back to this month. It celebrates its grand opening Jan. 16 with a performance from local band CoLab and a cocktail competition between bartenders, who will be showcasing the menu.
On a recent visit, the sun shone through the building's original windows, which include blue panes of glass. The store still has a few finish out details to be completed, but is warm with wood accents and exposed brick. We sat down with Drugstore Cowboy's owners to get the skinny on the new spot.
What is a Drugstore Cowboy, anyhow?
Ask Google, and it's a 1989 movie starring Matt Dillon about a group of drug users who rob pharmacies for their fix. Ask Urban Dictionary, you'll get an array of definitions, from a non-authentic cowboy to pickup artist. To Wright, the name speaks to a time and place.
"The name itself, drugstore, you think remedies or 'curative.' And cowboy speaks to a time," he says. "We have the old school remedies, caffeine and alcohol. Like the vintage drugs."
The concept was originally called Lead Belly Coffee, but the name changed after a run-in with the Lead Belly Foundation, an organization dedicated to education about blues musician Huddie Ledbetter, also known as Lead Belly. The two groups couldn't reach a "mutually beneficial" agreement, so Wright says they decided to change the shop's name.
Coffee for early risers
Drugstore Cowboy opens at 7 a.m. every day of the week to feed the caffeine-hungry masses on their way to work in downtown. Expect to find the usual espresso drinks on the menu here as well as some food.
Wright's aunt is currently helping develop Drugstore Cowboy's edible offerings, which the owners expect to be serving the week of Jan. 18. So far, they've decided on "walking tacos" (a bag of Fritos popped open and piled with taco toppings), charcuterie featuring products from Rare Edibles, jarred grab-and-go salads, and gourmet cheeses from Wisconsin. The bar will also offer whiskey and cheese pairings, inspired by a bar Saperstein used to patronize in Wisconsin.
"If you have the right cheese that's a really strong flavor, it kind of functions like a pickle-back, like a chaser, so it cuts the intensity of your shot," she says.
Booze for night owls
At night, bartenders break out the beer and cocktails. Though Drugstore Cowboy does not have any draft beers, it does have a selection of bottles and cans.
Cocktails here are meant to have a homeopathic twist, says Wright. For example, the Corpse Surviver, a mix of a bunch of different boozes that is supposed to cure a hangover, he says. Or the bar's version of a Mule, which has celery seed to boost its potency.
Coffee drinks will be available throughout the day, though Saperstein says there may not be a barista on staff all hours of the evening. The bar stays open until 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.
The weirder the better
Once they get in a rhythm, the owners hope to stuff the calendar with events, such as concerts, homebrew competitions, youth poetry slams, indie plays and maybe even drag karaoke.
"The weirder the better," Wright says.
"We want to be a pretty safe cultural hub for Deep Ellum," adds Saperstein.
Eventually the owners want to roast their coffee beans in house too.
Drugstore Cowboy is one of several new businesses to open in Deep Ellum, as the neighborhood has experienced a boom recently. Many entrepreneurs have brought foodie concepts to the area. See what else is cooking.