Mile High Dine and Recline: Traveling Mercies at Stanley Market Place

By Frank Mataipule and Megan Freckelton, FAM Design

An intimate, thoughtful cocktail and oyster bar from James Beard Foundation Award-winning Chef Caroline Glover and Nelson Harvey, recently opened at Stanley Marketplace. Designed to celebrate family, travel, craft and hospitality, Traveling Mercies is inspired by the hole-in-the-wall spots we seek out when we travel.

The name “Traveling Mercies” is a phrase Glover’s mother uses to wish friends and family safe passage on their journeys, connoting a sense of safe harbor and a place of respite. In addition, the concept pays tribute to three family members in Glover’s life – her stepfather-in-law, great aunt and grandfather – who inspired several design details of the concept, including artwork, branding and even menu staples like Traveling Mercies’ signature martini. 


As Glover’s first foray into a cocktail bar, the award-winning chef partnered with our FAM Design team to gain additional expertise we brought to the table through our design work with several boutique restaurants and hotels. The goal: create a hospitality-driven, intentional, authentic story throughout this feel-good concept that played on three key pillars: family, travel and hospitality. In designing the space, the team was challenged with how to support operations of a 400-square-foot space where every detail matters and creating thoughtful wayfinding to lead patrons to the tucked away location on the third floor, all while providing design details that tell a meaningful story and create a warm, welcoming space. A simple, flexible seating layout was utilized for accommodating different party sizes, and creative storage areas were designed using collected vintage furniture, also serving as a perch for cocktails. Wall shelving was added wherever possible and several small moveable side tables were collected for wine service, saving valuable table space. 

A large neon sign of the hand-written logo courtesy of Nelson’s stepfather is located at the bottom of the two sets of stairs serving as a beacon to the space. On the face of the stairs, we designed hand-drawn illustrations of fish, oysters, lemons, martinis and a wine glass to lead the way to the space. The walled-off portion of the stairs and waiting area are hand-painted with large-scale, imperfect blue and white stripes, with an ochre entry door, gold leaf sign and linen café curtain serving as the focal point. 

Arming the team with a book of her grandfather’s art, Glover hoped the art would inspire the space — but we took it a step further. One collage of photographs stood out — a collection of more than 60 artist portraits with their hands up to their faces, a celebration of the tools of their craft: the hands. With this, hands became the symbol to represent the pillars of the design concept: Family – a helping hand, a handshake. Travel — a wave hello or goodbye, craft–art, a way to shake a cocktail or shuck an oyster. Hospitality — a hug. 

Hands were also incorporated to signage and wayfinding motifs, and the hand photography collage was framed and hung in the waiting area. “Hand-drawn” and “handcrafted” are celebrated through hand illustrations used throughout, including graphics on the globe lights, five large-scale art pieces from Glover’s grandfather that are framed and hung, and hand-pulled plaster stripes that provide texture in the space. The leather check presenters were also pressed with a handwritten “Love to All,” stemming from Glover’s great-aunt, and the color palette used in the space creates a hug-like environment using warm hues of terra cotta and ochre, also mimicking a sunset like those on display every day from the large windows facing west. Even down to the amber glassware, warmth was at the very heart of everything design-related. 

Food and Beverage

Lastly, the menu inspired the use of classic oyster-adjacent materials and motifs, including tile, cane, and blue and white stripes. A nod to the organic ingredients of the sea is represented by the wavelike ceiling, coming together to provide the perfect setting for a sunset, chat, bite and cocktail.

For the food menu, Glover’s culinary approach is simple and artful with a respect for ingredients and how they are farmed. She parlays this point of view into an elevated, yet familiar, menu consisting of small plates geared toward experiences ranging from “drinks + snacks” to a full-blown meal. Beyond the raw bar fixtures like oysters and shrimp cocktails, Glover refreshes old-school comfort food classics like the wedge salad and layered rice pudding, while also putting her spin on bar snacks like Old Bay sourdough crackers. 

With seafood at the heart of the concept, the beverage program was designed to complement the fresh raw bar experience. Working with wine director Daniel Seibel, the wine menu highlights coastally-influenced bottles, including sparkling and white wines from boutique producers focused on regenerative farming. While wine and seafood are a timeless, tried-and-true pairing, rum is also a favorite on the cocktail menu, tapping into the emerging and versatile spirit in riffs inspired by classic cocktails that aren’t solely rooted in the tiki category. Traveling Mercies’ signature, lower-ABV martini, inspired by Caroline’s step-father, is another highlight, featuring manzanilla sherry, tarragon and preserved lemon oil. In keeping with Traveling Mercies’ coastal vibe, a tight list of aperitivo-based spritzes rounds out the cocktail list.

Project Partners

Branding & Interior Design: FAM Design

Construction: Dlin Construction Services

Signage Fabrication: Texas Custom Signs

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