When cool weather hits again Houston this fall, Bellaire residents will be able to leave the refuge of their air-conditioned homes and enjoy the return of autumn. Patricia King-Ritter hopes they'll do so at Evelyn's Park, the newly-minted green space on Bellaire and Newcastle she'd like to see become the next neighborhood hot spot. To help make that happen, King-Ritter, president of the park, is asking residents to send in their suggestions for the name of the cafe that will soon be built alongside other park amenities: seven gardens, three walking trails, a tiny lake and areas for local organizations to hold classes, meetings and events.
The goal, King-Ritter said, is a “coffee shop” feel where Bellaire residents will get to know each other the old fashioned way. “Our mission is to be really that community park where you meet your neighbors," she said. "[We’re] going back to the basics, like going out and seeing your neighbors and talking with them; having that community feel."
That “coffee shop” feel will be enhanced by the actual coffee shop—or rather, what's being planned as a casual restaurant with sugar cane sodas on tap in addition to a variety of coffees. And if its health-conscious, locally-sourced menu looks familiar, that’s because it’s similar to Zelko Bistro in the Heights—which is also owned by Jamie and Dalia Zelko, the proprietors of Evelyn Park’s yet-to-be-named cafe. The Zelkos and their company, Zelko Concepts, were sought out for the park’s cafe, and chosen after a four-year-long process of interviews and proposals.
“The whole idea with the bistro that we have is making the dining room feel like a second living room,” said Jamie Zelko. “Bellaire is a city within a city, and there’s a lot of history in Bellaire. Our concepts shapeshift around the demographic of the area. We want to be a part of the neighborhood and work with them.”
Dalia Zelko added that she wanted the cafe, and park as a whole, to be a “safe haven” for children after school, and a place for families, young professionals, or anyone else to take a break around their busy schedules.
Concrete was poured to begin foundations of the park’s amenities March 3, and it's expected to open in late summer or early fall. And while it's primarily designed for Bellaire residents, King-Ritter hopes residents from throughout Houston will come for a yoga class or a coffee among nature.
Besides the bragging rights that come with having suggested the ultimate name of the cafe, the winner of the "Name On!" contest will also get to have dinner with the Zelkos at the new spot once it's open, and will additionally receive a year’s membership to Evelyn’s Park Conservancy. The winning name will be chosen by a panel including the Zelkos, Ritter-King and fellow board member Debbie Lapin and City of Bellaire Mayor Andrew Friedberg. All entries must be submitted through the online contest form and must be received by March 28 at midnight.
“We met residents and the city board, everybody is so excited, it’s such a blessing for us," said Jamie of the soon-to-be-christened cafe. "Their opinions matter, everyone’s opinions matter."