Studio Blend Gallery & Coffee Shop has the feel of a 1950s diner but instead of serving hamburgers and malted milkshakes, they offer coffee, desserts, smoothies and an art studio.
On any given Friday morning the place is packed with locals who have already asked for bigger tables as their groups gathering for coffee and sugar cookies continue to expand.
They don’t serve full meals at the site on Fowlkes Street in downtown Sealy – the building is old and cooking would be a fire hazard, says owner Annette Hadjdik Smith.
“This is a caterer’s kitchen,” she explained.
The building was erected in 1928 and its barstools are more than 70 years old. The seats have original red vinyl and have been re-chromed, offering the ambiance of an old soda fountain. In fact, Smith says she’s heard stories from locals who used to come sit at the bar and order a Coke float.
“I love to hear from people about how it used to be,” she said. “We’re looking for old photos.”
The dining area has several paintings and sculptures on display that Smith obtained through friends and the Fort Bend and Brenham art leagues.
“I’m overwhelmed with what showed up,” Smith said, looking around at the art hanging on the walls. “We have a [stained glass] Wow window because people walk in here and say ‘Wow.’”
Crystal chandeliers hang from the ceilings, radiating rainbows on the walls.
“It just feels good in here,” Smith said.
Smith and her husband Steven, a dry wall contractor, have lived in Sealy for 18 years and owned the building since 2014, but getting it ready for opening has been a labor of love. They worked with the Sealy Economic Development Corporation to get a grant and had assistance from Ray and B.J. Israel working all hours of the day and night to bring the building up to code in order to prepare for its July opening.
Annette Smith has done oil paintings since she was 12 years old and also paints murals. Her sons, who both graduated from Sealy High and Sam Houston State University, help out on weekends and are working on the business website. Artist Roena King has pitched in to offer her expertise.
Classes will be offered in oil painting and art, and private parties will be offered starting later this month. They’re also working on a garden in the back where guests can sit outside once the weather gets cooler, Smith said. Several patrons have expressed interest in having a wine bar on weekends.
“I like how that everywhere you look, it tells a story,” she said.
Studio Blend is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at 203 Fowlkes St., Sealy, and will have extended hours for events and private parties.