There’s no need to wonder about the company’s name, printed over the picture of a dog outside the historic building located on the square in downtown Sweetwater.
Just step inside, and you’ll know all you need to know. Everything about Argos Brewhouse & Bookseller screams “chic,” “cool,” “wow.”
From the restored original floors, ceiling and stone walls to the granite bar top fabricated from a former Nolan County Courthouse … to the footrest that runs the length of the bar to the custom-made tables that were crafted from cedar floors in an old house — all of it says a lot of planning, care and imagination went into this place.
The restored building, which was built in 1902 as a Singer Sewing Machine facility and has housed various businesses since, opened in 2017 as the brainchild of Jared Houze, vicar of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, and local attorneys Rod Wetsel and Jeff Allen, whose offices are upstairs.
Argos is an outreach of St. Stephen’s, although the church doesn’t benefit from it financially, Houze says. Once a month, the church hosts a Story Time Hour at Argos for families in the community. A spiritual formation class sponsored by St. Stephen’s occasionally meets at Argos, too.
Houze, Wetsel and Allen had the idea of a traditional public house in mind when they designed Argos.
On any given day, you might find children listening to a story or adults enjoying a Texas craft beer or glass of wine and pastries while reading a new book purchased at Argos, or special events with food trucks and live music by regional artists.
“This is a new innovation in Sweetwater,” Wetsel says. “I don’t think we’ve had a bookstore here in half a century.”
But you don’t need a reason to stop by Argos.
Just go in and prepare to be amazed. The stone walls are decorated with old photos of downtown Sweetwater, along with an assortment of photographs and paintings created by local and regional artists.
Oh, about that name. “We pulled it from The Odyssey,” co-owner Allen says. “It’s the name of Ulysses’ dog in the book, who’s a symbol of loyalty, sitting and waiting for Ulysses all those years to come back. That’s what we want to be for this community — to be there for it and be loyal to it.
Loretta is a freelance writer in Abilene.