Bartender Chat: Greg Dean of Khon's Wine Darts Coffee Art

Earlier this week while walking back to my car after having lunch at Red Pier, I looked across the street and spied the sign for Khon's Wine Darts Coffee Art. Oh, so that's where it is.

The first time I had ever heard the name was about a year ago during a KUHF spot that said, "Support also comes from Khon's Wine Darts Coffee Art..." I thought, "Man, that place has a lot of stuff going on...I need to check it out." But I had still never been.

I rectified that situation the following afternoon by stopping in for a glass of wine and getting to know a little bit about the bar and Khon's new-ish bartender. Greg's no stranger to giving interviews, but they're usually about his live theater performances, not his beer slinging. Oh, and he believes that kids' books should never have anything to do with Nazis.

I agree.

Where are you from? Born and raised in Houston.

How long have you been bartending at Khon's? Just since January. I was a patron and I thought it would be fun to work a night here. My friend Troy worked Monday nights and I just started bugging Ashley and Khon, the owners, to let me pick up a shift as a novel, sort of get-outta-the-house-one-night-a-week kinda thing. Then I ended up getting laid off and needed a full-time job, so I started picking up more shifts. Now I'm here five days a week.

What are some other jobs you've had besides bartending? I was an editor for an online city guide, I worked at a global claims-management service, I was a restaurant manager...but what I've been doing consistently for years is acting with The Catastrophic Theatre. Some of those people I've known since I was 16 and we're still putting on plays together.

How would you describe the bar's aesthetic and crowd? It's very unpretentious and friendly, and the staff is very knowledgeable. When I came here as a customer, I was always impressed by how much the bartenders knew about beer and wine. It's not exactly in a neighborhood, but it has a neighborhood bar feel because we have so many regulars, but we get a lot of first-timers, too. Some people come in and ask, "Is this the tapioca tea shop?" and I tell them, "Nope, that's next door. This is beer and wine and darts and art."

Fill in the blank: At the end of my shift, I pour a ______. Often, a glass of sangria. When my shift is over, I'm usually not ready for anything heavy or robust so I like a nice, cold sangria.

What's your best-selling brew right now? People really like the Karbach Rodeo Clown and the Weisse Versa. We also sell a lot of Abita, especially the seasonal stuff, and right now it's the Strawberry Harvest Lager.

You get three songs on the jukebox. What do you play? I'd play... Straight to Hell by The Clash, Kissy Kiss or Black Rooster by The Kills and something by LCD Soundsystem.

What are your favorite spots to get a drink or something to eat? I enjoy Grand Prize, which is in walking distance from where I live, and all of my favorite restaurants have always been around here, all the little Vietnamese places. I crave the garlic tofu from Van Loc pretty often.

*Wildcard: What would be an inappropriate title for a children's story? One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Hitler.

Khon's Wine Darts Coffee Art, located at 2808 Milam, is tucked away in the Mekong Shopping Center that's also home to Pho Saigon. The beer selection features several brews from the Gulf Coast area, wines from around the world and even great sake. Happy hour is daily from 4 to 8 p.m., when you get a buck off all drafts and house wine. Khon's is a big supporter of the local arts, hosting local musicians and showcasing works by Houston artists on the walls. The art is rotated regularly, and right now you can see some beautiful photographs by Lokey Photography, one of the artists participating in FotoFest. Stop in, grab a cold beer and say hi to Greg. For more info and to see what Khon's is up to, follow them on Twitter @Khons.

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Ginny Braud
Contact: Ginny Braud