In Georgetown, a bar loaded up with craft beer and wine runs along one side of an outdoor apparel store. In Austin, Aviary Wine & Kitchen used to be a home decor store that also served up a constantly rotating list of hard-to-find wines before it became a full-fledged restaurant. Now, interior design store meets cocktail bar in Bee Cave with the opening of Jules Design Bar in the Hill Country Galleria.
The shop has only been open for a couple of months, but proprietor Julie Smith has already been surprised by the number of people who have visited in part because of its boozy draw. She has owned about nine other stores focused on home design. A major difference with Jules Design Bar is that it’s the first one with beer, wine and cocktails you can enjoy on-site while browsing for your next wall hanging.
“I built the bar as more of an amenity to the design clientele, but the bar and the events (that have happened because of it) have taken on a life of their own,” Smith says.
As we talk, a pair of women continue their work while finishing up a couple glasses of wine. Later on in the afternoon, a group comes in that seems more interested in looking at the furniture than at the bottles behind the bar — though these, for whiskey connoisseurs, will certainly be a big allure, thanks to big names like Pappy Van Winkle and Elijah Craig. Jules Design Bar attracts a wide swath of people, a fact that is not lost on Smith.
She has designed Jules to be a place not just for home inspiration and happy hour but also for work meetings, lifestyle classes and, of course, design consultation. The concept of the space might tighten in a few months, once it’s clearer what sells, but Smith is already expecting to need to move her workspace so that she has more room to spread out, letting the “grab-and-go retail” aspect flourish.
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Currently, a big component of Jules Design Bar are classes focused on everything from tips on how to flip a house — she specializes in home renovation — to what the best craft beers in Austin are to how to reinvent your mojo, no matter your life situation.
These, like many events, are held in a large side room beyond the bar that is specifically for private events, but people often spill beyond its walls. On one side of the room is a long hallway with interior design pieces, leading to Smith's workspace. At the front is the elegant bar, accented by four chandeliers and a couple of comfortable lounge areas that might be among the prettiest you'll ever see.
And literally every piece of furniture and decor item is for sale. For the most part, once an item has been sold, Smith replaces it with something new, rather than another copy of the previous piece.
The drinks are similarly fluid. There isn't a set cocktail menu yet, but on slower days, assistant manager Stephanie Foley will talk with customers about their drink preferences and create a cocktail based on them. She and Smith both swear by the Old Fashioneds they make, using their own recipes. But you don't have to choose hard liquor at all: Jules Design Bar also serves wine and beer. Like the glassware your drink is delivered in? You can buy that, too.
Tucked in between other retailers and restaurants, including the new Ginger Man and a Buenos Aires Cafe, Jules Design Bar will open a two-level patio next month with shade and a variety of planters. The store is located at 12700 Hill Country Blvd., Ste. T110, Bee Cave.
For more information, visit julesdesignbar.com.