Bartender Chat: Ava of The Fairview

The Fairview, formerly Dean's Credit Clothing in Montrose, is a great all-are-welcome kind of neighborhood bar that actually supports the neighborhood. On any given night, you could happen upon an art exhibition, a film screening, a DJ spinning, a belly dance show or a live music performance. The space is minimalist but comfortable, with no shortage of cozy couches.

We stopped into The Fairview this week to get to know bartender Ava and learn a little about her bar. While sitting at the huge wooden bar top, she told us it was handcrafted from a live oak that fell during Hurricane Ike.

You can still see traces of Dean's in the restroom, where the wallpaper is made of the decades-old accounting ledgers from when Dean's Credit Clothing was a retail shop in the '40s. Several patrons have even spotted their family members' names on some of the ledgers. It's those kinds of touches, mixing repurposed, recycled and antique with new and modern, that give The Fairview its character.

Where are you from? I'm from Maine. I've actually been in Houston four years this week. I was only supposed to be here for six months, and I just never left. I have a lot of family down here and great friends, so I just stayed.

How long have you been bartending? About three-and-a-half years. I started here when it was Dean's, and I used to bartend at Boheme and Etro Lounge.

How would you describe the bar's aesthetic? Well, it has come a long way. When we first opened, it was very showroom-esque, the way we had the furniture and bare walls. We've evolved based on how the clientele feels about it. We try to make them comfortable here, kind of like an extra living room for people out and about.

When did it change from Dean's to The Fairview? It's been The Fairview for about a year and a half. It's the same owner from when it was Dean's, the bar just had a very different vibe to it. We never sold clothes or did the fashion shows.

How would you describe the crowd? We have a very loyal crowd. Some people will come in and ask if it's a gay bar or a straight bar just because it's Montrose. I always say we've been open for over three years and no group has taken it over. There's no segregation here.

What are some other jobs you've held? I was a chef in Maine, at a cool little place on an island. It was interesting because you'd see lobstermen sitting at the bar, and in a corner booth you'd see the Rockefeller or Ford family. It was a nice mix of rich, poor and local. I cooked for eight years; I miss it.

Favorite spots to grab a drink or dinner? I like Poison Girl and Ruggles Green. I like going out to eat, but I like getting together with friends and cooking out more.

What is one thing that would make Houston a better city? Less humidity and more of a focus on outdoor stuff to do.

Stop by The Fairview, located at 315 Fairview, and say hi to Ava. The bar has great happy hour specials Mondays through Saturdays from 5-9 p.m. and all day on Sundays. Be sure to check the bathroom walls for your grandma's name.

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