It's 9 a.m. on a Friday and the energy at Murray Street Coffee is a little more buzzy than usual, and the nervous energy has nothing to do with caffeine. Earlier this week, landlords for the space delivered a letter informing owners Elizabeth and Doug Davis that they were behind on their rent and fees in the amount of $10,000. To further stoke the urgency, the balance was due in full by the end of the day that Saturday.
The debt -- a mixture of water bills, insurance premiums and taxes -- had slowly accrued over the last four to five years, according to Elizabeth. "I knew I owed them money," she said. She just never thought her landlords would try to collect it all in one day.
According to the Davises, a letter was dropped off Wednesday evening, but it wasn't clearly marked. The envelope sat with other mail for a full day, eroding a third of the time they had to respond to the notice. But despite the short timeline, Doug remains unusually upbeat. "Our landlords aren't villains," he says, though he's clearly not happy with the way the notice was handled.
Murray Street Coffee opened in 2005 and has gained a reputation as the quirky neighborhood spot to get a caffeine fix on the edge of Deep Ellum. But over the past nine years, a coffee trend has exploded in Dallas, bringing sleek-high end shops to nearly every neighborhood. Customers now have many options for their lattes and cappuccinos, and likely pass a few of them as they drive from their homes to Murray Street Coffee. But despite the shifting environment, Liz says she's reluctant to adapt. "I've tried to change but I don't want to," she says. Besides, Elizabeth notes that their business has been great. "I just don't have $10,000 lying around."
Good business or not, change will be coming to the Davis coffee shop quickly, either in the form of a huge influx of cash, or shuttered doors on Monday morning. Beside the register, a log keeps track of gift cards sold to raise money to save the shop. Already, customers have stepped up and purchased $50, $100 and smaller denomination cards in support of the business. Two customers have purchased $500 cards. Meanwhile, friends of the Davises have set up a Tilt site to collect donations.
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Despite the large sum, the short timeline and the increased competition in the Dallas coffee world, Doug labels himself as cautiously upbeat. "Murray Street Coffee has become a huge part of the community," he says. "I can't help but to be optimistic that the community will respond."