Unless Its Customers Can Save It, Murray Street Coffee May Close Its Doors On Monday.
After nine years of establishing itself as a neighborhood hangout and a home-away-from-home for Deep Ellum's caffeine-deprived residents, Murray Street Coffee Shop is in something of a tough spot.
On Wednesday afternoon, the shop's landlord gave owners Doug and Liz Davis notice that, if they didn't pay off a roughly $10,000 debt by Monday, the shop will be forced to close.
“Basically, a few years ago, I went through a period of unemployment and the economy was down, and we fell a few months behind on rent at the coffee shop, which we've been slowly paying off,” Doug says. “But not quickly enough, apparently. On top of that, what we didn't realize — and what we haven't been kept advised of by our landlords — is that they've been accruing other debts to our account, tied to, for example, annual taxes.”
And so the Davis' find themselves tasked with raising the five-figure deficit they've accrued in just a matter of days. For Doug, who is quick to point out how understanding the shop's landlord had been previously, the short notice is the hardest part to wrap his head around.
“That's the biggest unexplained part to me, frankly,” he says. “Because it's not only a short notice, but we were sort of robbed of a third of it because they didn't present it in a formal way or give us a head's up a week ago or anything. My initial concern was that maybe there was some other underlying, more sinister thing going on here. I've asked them that point blank and they said, 'No, basically, we just want you to square the account. We think we can lease the place for more than you pay, and it just comes down to a business decision.' I'm not trying to cast these guys as villains; they were more than generous when we need it a few years ago. I just wish they handled this a little bit differently.”
For now, the Davises are trying to remain optimistic that they'll be able to rally the community to buy enough prepaid coffee cards today and tomorrow to help keep the shop open for the time being. They've also set up a crowd-funding site to raise additional funds.
In any case, says Doug, he doesn't think of the prepaid card sales as just a short-term solution to a long-term problem. He's also confident, he says, that if Murray Street is able to meets its goal of $10,000 by the landlord's deadline of noon on Monday, November 10, money troubles won't necessarily hamper the shop's future in the long term.
Says Davis: “The shop is, in most ways, doing financially better than it has ever been, because we tuned up our operation and because the neighborhood is rebounding. We're on steady footing. I think we're in good shape, frankly. I think that people are pretty sensitive to the situation. And the sort of organic flow of customers is such that not everybody is going to come in the next month and not spend a cent because they bought coffee cards.”
Photos 1, 2 and 4 by Kathy Tran. Photo 3 by Bruno.