Steve Scalice, who has co-owned and run Dean's Credit Clothing downtown for ten years, is the sole owner of the new Dean's in Montrose, a roomier version of the retro lounge. "The biggest difference between this Dean's and downtown right now is we don't have the clothes -- yet. The other Dean's is all about vintage, but this place is more modern. I'd like to, eventually, have my own line here. But I have to do it right."
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Not that there's not plenty going on. "We do live music, we have DJs, art openings, poetry readings, we have fashion shows here--this great local designer named Shina Ray is doing shows every other Sunday here. Today we're having a party for some friends of people, artist-types and musicians."
As Scalice, who has a degree from UH's Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, talks to Eating Our Words, some women are walking in carrying platters of food, while others attempt to set up a microphone and amp by the front door. When asked what the mike is for, Scalise shrugs. "You know, I have no idea. I don't need to know."
Scalise's laidback attitude belies his attention to detail at the new bar. He's here every day and still bartends Wednesday through Saturday nights. He makes the music playlists. "Right now I'm into The Eels, Modest Mouse, Radiohead," he says. "It's some local stuff, indie, basically stuff you don't hear on the radio or in other bars." He also knows what surf video is playing on the flat screen (Step Into Liquid) and which artists produced the ever-changing work on the walls. It seems nothing escapes his notice: "The bathrooms are lined with the old ledgers from the downtown store, handwritten books, 'Mrs. Johnson bought a suit, pair of pants, and socks for $1.29, she paid 19 cents.' It's great."
Scalice's laidback vibe has taken hold in his bar. "People ask me if this is a gay bar or a straight bar, but to me it doesn't need those labels. It's just a bar for everybody. On a given night, you might walk in and see a group of gay people over here, stoners in the back, artists in another corner--you never know what you're going to get. It's really mellow. No drama."