A Seat at the Bar: Fuad’s

A Seat at the Bar: Fuad’s Piano Bar

Fuads 1So what’s better than a great piano bar?
One that’s on your way home from work.
My search for My Bar in Houston has taken me to Fuad’s on Westheimer a few times. It has great potential, and it’ll definitely be a more-than-regular stop, but I don’t see it becoming My Bar.
First, the good stuff.
For me, Fuad’s has a great location on Westheimer, about halfway between work and home.
I originally stumbled in here after the St. Thomas University Catholic fundraiser at the River Oaks Country Club. One of the two Bubba’s I know in Texas (his real name is Francis) suggested we go. Bubba loves the piano player and likes to sing American Songbook classics from Sinatra and Dean Martin when he’s there.
So we walk in and Geoff Allen, the piano player, whom I think I’ve never seen before in my life, says, “I know you. You’re Mark Yost. You put me in the Houston Business Journal.”
KeatonLong story short: He was the piano player at the Diane Keaton private dinner I attended. If you look at the photo I used in the paper, on the righthand side of the photo, reflected in the mirror behind Diane Keaton, is Geoff’s wonderful face. He was there that night playing piano.
Fuad’s is definitely a unique place. There is no dinner menu. You simply tell them what you want to eat and they make it (I think some dishes, like Peking Duck and Lobster Thermidor require 24 hours notice).
But I don’t go to Fuad’s to eat, and neither do most people. I go there to sit around the piano and take in the eclectic — I’m being polite — crowd that loves to hear Geoff sing, and occasionally belt out their own tune.
And Geoff is a great host. He’s introduced me to a handful of the regulars that are there most Friday nights. In fact, I went there this past Friday night after being shown the intricacies of the Reliant Stadium sound system by Rodeo Houston COO Leroy Shafer (see my last post).
Fuads 2Here’s a typical night at Fuad’s: I walked in about 10:15 and there were no seats at the piano. Geoff smile at me as I walked in and he sang some Elton John song.
I went to the back bar and got a Beam & Coke — $10, which is one reason why Fuad’s won’t become a regular stop for me — and then went back up front and stood near the piano.
Between songs, Geoff introduced me to a handful of the regulars. He’s a great host that way, mixing in songs, banter and creating just a casual, relaxed atmosphere that allows you to forget the world outside. Something the perfect bar MUST be able to do.
So, being a reporter, I notice things. So I start asking Kathleen (I think that was her name), one of the regulars, to explain the goings on around the bar.
First off is a good looking 60ish guy with salt and pepper hair and a wad of 100s that’d choke a horse (or hawse, as my beloved Boston-born mother used to say). He has a wedding ring on, but he’s hitting pretty hard on a woman on one side of the piano (not an unusual activity for the money class of Houston). After 15 minutes or so, he goes over to the other side of the piano and sits down next to this really cute 30ish brunette with a great rack and starts putting his hands all over her thighs. So I turn to Kathleen and ask, “What’s the story with them?”
Turns out they’re married, but she likes other women. Her husband was over on my side of the bar, hitting on the other woman to try and get her to go home with his wife.
The night goes on.
Sitting next to me is a classic River Oaks couple: He’s about 60, good looking, some sort of doctor. In between him and me is his ex-wife, who’s all of 30, platinum blonde, fake tits out to here, noshing on caviar and sipping white wine. I start chatting with the ex-wife because, A. She’s right next to me, B. One of the regulars says to her, “Oh, you should meet Mark. He’s from Brooklyn,” and she just moved back from Brooklyn (where she dated a bunch of guys she didn’t like, all of it financed by the cuckold ex-husband, I lean). And, C. Did I mention she had a rack out to here?
So as I’m speaking to her, I notice that every 20 minutes or so, the doc is going out to the parking lot. Kathleen, my tour guide for all of this, tells me that the blonde bombshell has five yapping Pekinese that she takes with her everywhere. They’re out in the doc’s car, with the air conditioning running. He’s going out at her request to check on them and occasionally walk them. It takes all my personal restraint when he comes back from the next parking lot sojourn to not say to him, “Buddy, run for your life!!! And let the dogs loose in the parking lot before you drive away as fast as you can.”
WilliamsAmid all this, there was some minor drama going on at the piano. One of the regulars sings “Crazy” (how appropriate). Well, a semi-regular woman got up and sang….you guessed it….”Crazy.” So the regular “Crazy” singer had her nose out of joint the rest of the night.
So that’s Fuad’s.
It’s a great bar that I’ll come back to. I love Geoff. We had a great conversation about the great Paul Williams the first time I was there, and he played some Billy Joel and Sinatra for me on my last trip.
But I don’t see Fuad’s as My Bar in Houston. Yes, the patrons are interesting, but not that interesting. I don’t see myself hanging out with these people. And the drinks are pretty steep for a lowly business columnist. But Geoff almost — almost — makes the drink prices worth it.
So, the search for My Bar in Houston continues.
Stay tuned…

About Mark Yost
Mark Yost is the author of the Rick Crane Noir series, published by Stay Thirsty Press. Rick Crane is the classic, anti-hero private eye in the spirit of Sam Spade and Jim Rockford. He works in the unmistakably noirish underworld of Upstate New York, running errands and fixing problems for Jimmy Ricchiati Sr., one of Upstate New York's most notorious crime bosses. But readers quickly learn that deep down, Rick Crane is one of the good guys. "Cooper's Daughter," the first book in the widely acclaimed series, is a fast-moving tale in which a heartbroken father comes to Rick and asks him to find out what really happened to his daughter, who was murdered and the details buried in the Unsolved Crimes File of the local police department. The second book in the series is "Jimmy's Nephew," which begins with the death of Joey "Boom Boom" Bonadeo, an up-and-coming boxer and the nephew of Rick's underworld boss. What starts out as a routine investigation turns into a case that will test Rick's faith -- in the Catholic Church and his fellow man. Book No. 3 in the series, "Mary's Fate" is due out in August 2015. Mark Yost also writes for The Wall Street Journal Arts in Review page, as well as the Book Review section. He is a member of the Mystery Writers of America -- Midwest Chapter, International Thriller Writers, and a number of other author groups. He is also a member of the Amazon Author's Program. Mark lives in the Loyola neighborhood of Chicago, but he and his son, George, call the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn "home."

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