We had the good fortune of connecting with Douglas Davis and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Douglas, what’s your definition for success?
“Success” in business to me is measured on micro and macro levels… on a micro level, it starts with creating a pleasing encounter and experience for our customers. Moving further up the success food chain, it’s netting enough to be able to pay the bills. But the pinnacle of success for this business was demonstrated a few years back when the nation was in the throes of the Great Recession. I was unemployed and not able to financially supplement the coffee shop as I have had to do from time to time. The shop had fallen behind in rent, and our landlord understandably lost patience. We were given a four-day deadline to get current or be shut out of the property and the assets seized. We got that notice on a Thursday morning. One of our customers heard about this and established a crowd-sourced funding campaign by late Thursday morning. A reporter friend heard the news and published a story in the Dallas Observer. By close of business Saturday, between the crowd funding and extraordinary sales, we had more than enough to cover the rent we owed. To have a business that means so much to our customers that they respond so extraordinarily to our time of crisis is the embodiment of success.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Liz and I started the coffee shop in 2005. We had known the Deep Ellum neighborhood since the 80’s, primarily as a night time destination. We knew there were lots of interesting people— freelance architects, photographers, artists, musicians— living in the area. We also knew they had limited choices in terms of daytime coffee. We saw the space the coffee shop is in, unleased for multiple years at that point and thought it was a good size with excellent light. We didn’t know anything about starting a small business (and the barriers the City of Dallas can create for cafes), and little about coffee beyond the cappuccino we like to drink. (“What’s a chai??” we asked each other when one was ordered for the first time.)

We developed a following of the people we were trying to attract. Lots of touring musicians dropped in. I ended up a freelance writer for the music section of The Observer after the editor enjoyed the breath of the playlist in the shop (all on a 300 CD carousel when we started) and the banging stereo system deployed. We developed many lasting friendships with the staff and customers that we cherish.

Over time the neighborhood gentrified, and the price of rent drove most of our original clients out. Lots of apartments have been constructed, along with great restaurants and stores. There is now foot traffic, and the customers we lost have been replaced with a more diverse clientele.

There were only about five indie coffee shops in all of Dallas when we opened. Today I can name 6 within walking distance of ours. The Dallas coffee culture is thriving. And we have persevered, mainly because of our unique food (we are more a food destination than a coffee destination) and inviting space. We’ve adapted our operating hours (originally 7AM to 9PM, now 8AM to 2PM) as a result of covid and the challenge of finding compatible staffing.

Cafe years are like dog years— we are about to hit 19 years and have hung on when logic said we should have quit. But we still love the business, the space, and the community we have fostered. .

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Dallas has lots of great places that can cater to any taste. And as time has passed, my own needs have gotten simpler in terms of dining and drinking. But if I had a friend in town for a weekend, I would want to offer an agenda that includes dining, drinking, some culture, and some live music. It might go something like this if the music lined up on Saturday…

Friday evening would start with a welcoming drink would be had at Cold Beer Company. It’s a great patio experience, dog friendly and convenient to our neighborhood. I’d offer dinner at Ichigo Ramen— they have amazingly good and complex ramen and small plates that cater to a vegan or non-vegan diet. A nightcap at Double Wide might be in order.

Saturday, I’d invite my friends to Murray Street Coffee Shop (of course) for bev and breakfast. Liz and I usually work Saturday, so they would be on their own after that for a bit. I’d point them to the Nasher Sculpture Museum. If they don’t know Dallas, I suggest grabbing the McKinney Avenue Trolly to explore Uptown.

Dallas has many great small to medium-sized venues to AFFORDABLY see live music. The jewel box The Kessler, the classic Granada Theater, and great micro venues like Trees, Three Links and Club Dada. There are many more very fine venues, but the cost plus ticket fees take some of the joy out of the experience. So depending on whats available, I would gravitate to one of these to catch a show.

If the show is at The Kessler, Texas Theater or Longhorn Ballroom, I’d suggest dinner at Nova in Oak Cliff. The food is dynamite, the ambiance is neighborhood casual, and the venues are nearby. If the venue is Deep Ellum or The Granada, Nori Handroll Bar would be the pick for dinner.

Sunday the Coffee Shop is closed, so we head to our favorite alternative, Full City Rooster in the Cedars. The have Taco Deli tacos, pastries from Doughregarde, and great espresso. (They are also the roaster for the coffee we serve in our Shop).

If the group has the energy, we’d head to Ft. Worth and the museums over there. The Modern Art Museum of Ft. Worth. And Kimbell Museum are fantastic in their architecture. If not, a walk around White Rock Lake is soothing.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Our success is the result of the graciousness and hospitality of my wife- the manager- and the extraordinary people that she has hired through the years.

Website: www.murraystreetcoffee.com

Instagram: Murraystreet

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/douglas-b-davis-69b992?

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