Murray Street Closure Slows Business, Not Service, at Murray Street Coffee Shop

Monday morning, business was far from usual for the baristas and patrons of Murray Street Coffee Shop. Seems there's nothing quite like a police-enforced road closure and a crew of 200 folks filming a Jerry Bruckheimer-backed pilot in the neighborhood to put a damper on the day-to-day customer flow at the popular indie coffee destination -- especially when it's the stretch of Murray Street that runs directly in front of the shop that was closed down.

Sure, several of the folks involved with the shoot stopped by the coffee shop. Roasted even caught a glimpse of an actress sipping from a lidded go-cup as she paced the sidewalk reading lines from a curled copy of the pilot's script. But, even with some of the crew stopping in for caffeine pick-me-ups between takes, the shop's owner/manager Liz Davis says the road closure seemed take a bite out of Murray Street's usual Monday morning business.

But, while a roadblock and a detour may have deterred some of the coffee shop's regulars yesterday morning, it takes more than having to circle the block to find a close parking spot to hold Roasted back from a piping-hot cup of joe. In fact, the reduced customer flow just meant that those of us who did drop by the shop were given extra-attentive service from the two baristas behind the counter. But, then again, getting excellent coffee and great service at Murray Street Coffee Shop is business as usual.

Thankfully, for the coffee shop and its customers, yesterday was the last day of filming on the show's pilot episode. At least that's what several members of the crew milling around the area told Roasted. And Murray Street was only slated to be closed until noon, which meant that the street was reopened just in time for the shop's lunch rush. (In addition to serving an array of coffees, teas and pastries, the shop also offers a good selection of sandwiches, as well as hearty snacks like cheese or hummus plates.)

Located at 103 Murray St. in Deep Ellum, the coffee shop opened in August 2005 after Doug and Liz Davis spotted the location on the corner where Main and Murray Streets intersect.

"We saw the space, and loved it," Liz says. "We'd always wanted to open a shop of some kind, like a wine or coffee shop, and when we saw the space was open we thought it would be perfect for an independent coffee shop. We thought that the neighborhood needed one and Dallas needed one."

And it seems Dallas agreed with them. Murray Street has become quite the hip, award-winning hangout for urban professionals, artists and musicians of all ages. Of course, that's when the road out front isn't closed to through traffic.

When Roasted slipped into the queue a little after 8 a.m., only four people ahead waited to place their orders. It was the longest line Roasted witnessed during the morning rush. Clearly, the two baristas behind the counter had already had some coffee though, because they burned through the line. In less than three minutes, Roasted was at the counter.

Roasted quizzed the baristas on the three coffee offerings of the day, and instead of just explaining the differences between the Italian roast and the French roast, one of the baristas poured an inch of mud into a glass demitasse cup and offered a sample. The nip of the Java Estate was tasty, with a very light acidity, but it was too mild for Roasted's taste. The French roast, though, was sufficiently smoky-sweet. So, Roasted ordered a cup and walked upstairs to find a seat.

The downstairs area has a trio of tables and chairs, a couch and a circa 1920's well-weathered oak church pew, while the upstairs area offers another couch, a couple of comfy chairs and a large conference-sized table that can be reserved for meetings. The shop offers free Wi-Fi and enough power outlets to accommodate all the laptops even during peak hours.

The customer flow is about as diverse as it comes in Dallas. As Davis explains: "We get lots of photographers, artists and musicians, urban professionals and hipsters -- everybody comes in really."

Monday morning, while a young couple sat downstairs giggling over steaming mugs of hot tea, a few artists were sitting upstairs talking about local galleries.

The walls of the shop are adorned with an eclectic array of art. At night, the shop's windows are aglow with tealight candles, which only adds to the coffee shop's homey kinda vibe. If Murray Street feels as warm and inviting as a living room, that's because the Davises treat the place as an extension of their own home. In fact, the black couch downstairs may or may not have originally been in their home.

And, if there's a reason this place has become like a second home to so many area coffee hounds, it's that the Davises and the baristas they hire tend to make you feel at home. Even when the street out front has a police blockade.

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