Jessie and Andy are living the dream. More specifically, they’re living my dream, and in more than one respect. Not only is the engaged couple in the midst of renovating a ranch-style home in South Austin, but together, they also own and run one of this town’s most beloved restaurants: Henri’s. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think to myself “Dang! This is exactly the type of place I wanted to open!” upon first entering the cheese shop a couple years ago. But it’s probably best that these two beat me to the punch: cozy, charming and totally delicious, Jessie and Andy managed to bring the feeling of a quaint European cheese and wine shop to Austin better than I ever could have (and let’s be honest, we all know that was never going to happen anyway). Between planning their impending nuptials, working on their new home, and maintaining and growing their labor of love, this happy couple has a lot to celebrate and even more on their plates. Keep reading for the insight into how they get it all done, what they do to stay inspired, and the details on their swoon-worthy new home… *photography by Jessica Pages
How did you two meet?
Andy first saw me running across the street in burgundy-colored velvet pants after a concert at Stubb’s. We somehow ended up at the same house party later that night and hit it off.
I was working on a film at the time as a wardrobe stylist and costume designer. The movie we were doing was filming almost all night shoots, meaning I slept during the day and worked through the night. Andy would show up at my condo door every day with a cup of coffee and a big grin. He persistently did this until I agreed to go on a date with him… after the first time out together, it became clear that we wouldn’t be spending much time apart.
Tell us about the home you’re building.
We looked for a place to buy for over a year and finally landed on the perfect gem: a 1960’s ranch-style home in Barton Hills. The lot was just as important to us as the house itself, since we have two amazing pups and wanted them to have space to roam free.
We kept the bones of the house and gutted the rest. It was definitely a bigger project than either of us expected. One room we’re most excited about is what we’re calling the “great” room, which backs up to our patio, creating an indoor/outdoor shared living space with large sliding doors that open up to the yard. The general design aesthetic is classic, but with an eclectic touch. There will be a lot of bright white, brass fixtures, wide plank floors, hanging plants and ferns, white and grey marble, Moroccan tile in the bathrooms, and velvet.
What’s a typical day like for you?
First, coffee. Other than that standing appointment, our schedule is different every day, which certainly keeps things exciting. We could be doing anything from running to the farmers market, meeting with catering clients, tasting wine, dropping off cheese to a wholesale client, discussing construction with our builder, and the list goes on…
But we always end the workday, no matter how late, checking on the progress of the house. We keep a headlamp in the car that my mother gave us.
What do you love about working with your fiancé?
I love how well we complement each other. What I lack, he makes up for, and vice versa. Andy has a great business mind, and I, a creative one. We see the world a bit differently, but that gives us a sense of balance and allows each person to bring something new to the table.
I grew up around art. I’ve got it in my bones. My grandmother owned an art gallery in San Antonio for fifty years and I spent a great deal of my time there as a child. I see the world through that lens, and am always trying to bring it into my daily life, whether through clothing (which, to me, is a form of wearable art), taking a creative approach to our social media, or through designing the art aesthetic and style of the shop.
Andy grew up with a father who had a knack for business and really learned through observing. He spent time exploring San Francisco and working in the restaurant industry, but always knew he wanted to run his own place. The shop has given him the ability to bring together all of the various skills and talents he’s acquired over the years, and it’s been inspiring to see him work so hard and accomplish so much.
Tell us about your creative process as a team.
We bounce ideas off each other every day. Usually one of us will start with a thought, and we’ll play devil’s advocate to work through the positives and negatives of every decision. By the end of the day, we may have developed a well thought-out goal and action plan. Building the house really shown us what an amazing team we are if each of us plays to our strengths.
Andy on the inspiration behind Henri’s:
My background is in the kitchen, but I always wanted to open my own place. I developed my love and appreciation of cheese and wine while working in San Francisco, and had a pretty specific atmosphere in mind when it came to the space: I wanted to create something that felt like a small neighborhood restaurant you might find in Europe, where friends and neighbors gather to enjoy great meals made with the best ingredients in simple and classic preparations. Just doing the classics right — that’s how I like to eat, and really, it’s what I aim to serve.
The best business advice given to you:
We’ve been given a few seeds of advice that have helped guide the business. Take big risks. Do something you love so much that it doesn’t feel like work. Surround yourself with good, honest, and hardworking people. There is a lot of truth to the idea that you are the sum of the people you spend most of your time with.
Jessie, what’s your favorite thing about Andy?
Andy has that wonderful southern charm, but my favorite thing about him is his incredible dedication and commitment to what he values. When it come to the shop, he wakes up super early every morning, full of energy, ready to go to work and make things happen. That same commitment translates to his relationships with family and friends as well.
Andy, what’s your favorite thing about Jessie?
My favorite thing about Jessie is her ability to show me something new within herself every day that literally blows me away. She always strives to find the beauty in everything, and is able to create beauty herself. She’s loving, caring and a real comfort to me.
Hand selected by an Henri’s cheesemonger, this cheese and charcuterie board features:
- Pena Gorda (firm goats milk cheese, Spain)
- Brie Fermier (cow milk brie, France)
- Elberton Blue (cow blue, Georgia)
- duck salami
- truffle salami
- house made turnip pickles
- house made mustard
- house made berry jam
- house roasted nuts
- served with sliced baguette from Easy Tiger
What’s been the biggest challenge of working together?
It is always challenging to resist the desire to constantly think about and discuss work on our off time — whether on vacation or just at dinner. The shop is our baby right now, so it’s an incredibly hard thing to draw boundaries and “turn off” when we’re not working.
The best piece of marriage advice given to you:
A grey-haired hippie neighbor who was always blaring The Grateful Dead once told us, “When all else fails, take a trip to The Greenbelt.” We have taken that advice to heart and try to escape to the wild any chance we get — especially after it rains. Getting back to nature and breathing in fresh air always makes us feel better. As Muir wrote, “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” We’re most at peace in the green.
Get the recipe for Henri’s Smoked Salmon with Microgreen and Herb Salad.
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