Saturday, July 17, 2021

Visiting ShyKatz Café on Galveston Island, Historical Architecture, James Waters House

ShyKatz French toast with Bacon

“…ShyKatz Café is a laid-back place, with old-timey mismatched furniture and a paper towel roll in the center of each table to serve as napkins…”

(Virginia Billeaud Anderson - BoudinandBourbon.com - checks out food and historical architecture in Galveston. Learn about ShyKatz Café.)


ShyKatz Café on Galveston Island, Historical Architecture, James Waters House

My regular readers know I get really excited about historical buildings and architectural preservation. So it was fun to go to Galveston on Thursday to see a friend’s historical 1890s house on Broadway Street, surrounded by other nineteenth century houses in the East End historical district. How I scrutinized that house. I opened closet and cabinet doors, and stuck my nose up to molding, and ran my hand over wall paper. After I gawked at fire places and floor-to-ceiling windows and the staircase railing, we went to lunch a few blocks away at ShyKatz Café.

Foodies sometimes use the phrase, “fine dining doesn’t necessarily mean fine china.” This sort of sums up ShyKatz. ShyKatz`Café is a laid-back place, with old-timey mismatched furniture and a paper towel roll in the center of each table to serve as napkins. The cat that greets you at the entrance is Bubba. Bubba’s self-assured demeanor reminded me of those imperious taverna cats that rule over restaurants in Greece. The beasts live cushy lives. One of the most notable things about ShyKatz, I thought as I ate my chicken salad, was the joint was full of locals. Not sure why that pleased me so much.

ShyKatz Ham egg sandwich

ShyKatz Strawberry Fields Forever Salad Baby spinach,
strawberries, nuts, feta cheese, crunchy poppy, balsamic vinegar
ShyKatz Bacon Hamburger with sweet potato fries
ShyKatz Chicken on crispy tortilla

ShyKatz takes its name from owner Kathryne (Kat) Kearns and owner Shyra (Shy) Leger. Here’s what they want you to know. They have a full service bakery, delicatessen and restaurant. Breakfast is served all day, and along with omelettes, pancakes, bacon, sausage and grits, they have Tex Mex items. Lunch includes salads, soups, chili, cold sandwiches, burgers and many hot sandwiches, as well as daily sweetly-priced home-cooked “Blue Plate” specials such as meat loaf, chicken fried steak, and lasagna with meat sauce. Using family recipes is a culinary priority. The bakery makes coffee cake, muffins, cookies, brownies and bread pudding with caramel sauce. It specializes in strawberry cake and fresh berry cakes, apple pie and scones. Shannon who helps Kat with the baking told me that custom-ordered cakes and pies for weddings and special events are an important part of the business. ShyKatz welcomes any size catering job. I wanted to know more about the building. It was near 19th century houses like the one my friend owns  on Broadway Street, yet its brick exterior made it difficult to determine the age. I asked Shannon. How old is the building? Turns out it dates to 1896. In its early years, the building was a neighborhood market, run by an Italian family. I'm certain the building began life as a wooden structure, probably with a slate roof, and the brick exterior got added later.

ShyKatz Berry cake
ShyKatz building built in 1896

When I walked out of the restaurant and stood at the corner of Avenue L and 16th Street, I felt the breeze from Galveston Bay, and thought about another historical house that was near there. New Orleans born Haydee Marie de Lassus Waters was my grandmother’s first cousin. Haydee married William Waters from Galveston. William was a son of New Orleans born James Waters, who came to Galveston in 1872, became a successful businessman and served as Galveston County treasurer for 16 years. In 1891, James hired the architect Henry Collier Cooke of Bourgeois Nitchner and Cooke to design him a Victorian style house on Church Street. After James and his wife died, William and Haydee lived in that house, in fact, after William's death, Haydee remained in the house until Hurricane Ike hit in 2008, at which time she went to live with her daughter in Louisiana, where she died in 2015 at the age of 102. I visited her at the house on Church Street, which is how I became acquainted with the "James Waters house." That house became a Texas Historic Landmark in 2016.

I split Galveston wondering two things. Did architect Henry Collier Cooke who designed the James Waters house on Church Street also design my friend’s house on Broadway Street. And did my grandmother's first cousin Haydee shop in the building built in 1896 at the corner of Avenue L and 16th Street when it was a market owned by an Italian family, before it became ShyKatz.

Bubba greets visitors at ShyKatz

ShyKatz Chicken salad sandwich

www.skykatz.com

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Romano’s Pizza - Houston Italian Restaurant - Vinny Quarto, Frank Fragale - History of Calabria Italy - Montrose Neighborhood Houston

Unraveling Mint Juleps, Pat O’Brien’s Patio, Julep Bar, Anvil Bar and Refuge

Eating Oysters at Topwater Grill in San Leon at Galveston Bay

A Tribute to Legendary Wildcatter - Jim Bob Moffett

A Talk with Food Guru George Graham about Acadianatable.com - Graham’s New Cookbook “Fresh From Louisiana: The Soul of Cajun and Creole Home Cooking” - Interview
https://www.boudinandbourbon.com/2020/12/a-talk-with-food-guru-george-graham.html

Ryan Baptiste - The Light Beyond The Blight - Redbud Gallery - Echoes of New Orleans
https://www.boudinandbourbon.com/2020/06/ryan-baptiste-light-beyond-blight.html

Bar Boheme - Houston Bars - Drag Brunch - Architectural Preservation
https://www.boudinandbourbon.com/2020/05/bar-boheme-houston-bars-drag-brunch.html

Martha Stewart Visits Lucullus Antiques - Patrick Dunne - New Orleans
https://www.boudinandbourbon.com/2019/11/martha-stewart-visits-lucullus-antiques.html

Jimmy Domengeaux Chats about His Louisiana Wetlands Photography Exhibition – Interview
https://www.boudinandbourbon.com/2019/10/jimmy-domengeaux-chats-about-his.html

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https://www.boudinandbourbon.com/2019/08/blog-post_14.html

A Closer Look at Rays Real Pit Bar-B-Q Shack - Essay
Notes on Irises, Van Gogh, Walter Annenberg, Louisiana Politics
https://www.boudinandbourbon.com/2019/05/notes-on-irises-essay.html

La Grange Bar, Fresh Pineapple, Memories of Whore Houses
https://www.boudinandbourbon.com/2019/01/fresh-pineapple-and-memories-of-whore.html

A Closer Look at Christy Karll’s Painting “Swerve” –  Interview
https://www.boudinandbourbon.com/2018/07/christy-karll-interview-closer-look.html

A Closer Look - Beef Empanadas with Olives - Seco’s Latin Cuisine - Essay

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