It was a merry beginning last Saturday for downtown’s newest enterprise, Coffee and Cocktails at 76067, with a crush of customers that came as a result of the Merry Wells event.
The store hasn’t had its official grand opening yet, but it is open, serving customers six days a week from morning till night, owned and operated by partners in life and now partners in business, Wes Franklin and Christie Rucker.
It is located on the southwest corner of South Oak Avenue and S.W. 1st Street, in the former Cole’s House of Flowers building with its new white stucco exterior. That corner is the entryway into the new eclectic vendors mall, The Market at 76067, part of the downtown rebirth and vision generated by investors Randy and Misty Nix.
“Merry Wells, it was very wild,” said Franklin, recalling the night when an estimated 8,000-10,000 people descended upon downtown. “We had a packed crowd. I heard a lot of good things. A few customers had to wait for drinks, but overall I think we did very well for being open just two days. We knew if we made it through that we would be alright.”
The bar features more than 20 varieties of bourbons displayed in an open cabinet fashioned from pre-Civil War-era wood, wines, beer on draft and bottled/canned, locally named specialty drinks, Avoca Coffee from Fort Worth and a simple menu of food and appetizers all within a beautifully designed establishment with a long curved bar, tables and cushioned booth-style seating along a wall.
There is a patio for outdoor drinking and socializing, with plans to construct a rooftop patio above it.
Rucker and Franklin are still putting things in place and fine-tuning their brunch and bar business. The menus were still being printed on paper while waiting for delivery of permanent ones. An outdoor sign is soon-to-be installed.
“We just really evolved into what we are,” Rucker said. “We changed the hours before we even opened and walked in the door. Just a lot of things we are trying to figure out and provide for everybody. We already changed the menu.”
The business is open Mondays through Thursdays, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
They are building to this week’s first event, a Prohibition Party, at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Customers are encouraged to wear attire from the 1920s and 1930s and celebrate the 85th anniversary of prohibition’s end while enjoying an Old Baker, Peacock Alley or Mineral Wells Old Fashioned beverage – or whatever one cares to wet their whistle.
The Old Baker, for instance, is inspired by the popular Manhattan drink, infused with a hint of roasted pecan and poured over a large cube of ice made from Crazy Water No. 4, a Mineral Wells-based and bottled product.
Another of their speciality drinks is an Espresso Martini – a unique combination of coffee and vodka.
“It will make you talk non-stop,” said Rucker.
The idea for Coffee and Cocktails at 76067 came about out of a desire by the Nixes to have a place for people to come downtown and enjoy drinks in a casual, sociable atmosphere or while taking in the market or other eateries and shops.
Rucker has worked for the Nixes five years, including helping them oversee their fast-food chicken enterprises.
“Randy knew he needed to bring a wine bar or some type of bar downtown,” Rucker said. “He knows my experience in this industry and had many conversations with me about what that would be like, but usually joking around. And then one day he approached me with an investment plan and it grew from there.”
She said Nix was offering potential investors two years free rent in one of his recently acquired buildings and spaces if they would open a tourist-related business.
“When he did that he had people coming in to him and talking about what could work and what wouldn’t,” Rucker said. “People were coming and saying what do you think about this (a coffee and cocktails establishment). He sat me down and said these people want to open it, but they don’t want to open it. So I said if they don’t want to do it, I’ll do it. It turned into serious talk.”
The official ribbon cutting and grand opening for Coffee and Cocktails at 76067 is this Thursday.
Franklin, who left a career as an electrician working in the oil and gas industry to join Rucker and open the bar, said all of the work was performed by local workers and contractors.
It keeps in the theme planted by the Nixes of not only using local people and products, when possible, but working with – not against – other businesses downtown. For some, that means sharing ideas, and even people when necessary, or simply pointing customers up and down Oak Avenue, letting them know what else there is to do and enjoy.
“It’s not like it’s just thriving for us, it is helping other businesses,” Franklin said. “Just us being here, we have been able to share the rest of downtown – The Bistro, Fresh and Fruity, the other restaurants we have here – it works. It’s what it takes to have a thriving downtown. When you go to Fredricksburg you see place after place and everything is a little different, all within a big picture and they work off each other. That’s what we have to have here.”
He said the experience so far has been amazing.
“It’s been a wild ride, but it’s been fun,” said Franklin. “Just getting to interact with people. I worked in a gas plant where I would see the same people every day. Now I get to see different people come in every day, walking the streets. It’s just mind-blowing to know there are so many people from out of town who come through Mineral Wells. I have met so many people that don’t know about Mineral Wells. I get to meet people and share history. People from out of state, out of country even. They come to try things. They come to downtowns like this to try something new. Now, we have something new here for them to try.”
Rucker agreed, saying local people often take things for granted, or don’t see what visitors see.
“When you grew up here, you don’t think about it,” she said.
They hope now everyone sees the changes taking place, and will visit, shop, eat and drink in the new downtown and let everyone else know Mineral Wells, much like it was half a century ago, is once again alive and thriving.