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The Fort Stockton Pioneer!
The Garage Coffee, Music & More, owned and operated by Brian and Renee Gaylor and family, is celebrating its one-year anniversary this week.
What started many years ago as a dream has turned into the premier live music venue in Fort Stockton, with musicians appearing from all over the US.
Chrissi Sumner, co-owner, describes Fort Stockton as a natural midway point for artists traveling between El Paso and San Antonio “so we are able to book some great musicians, not to mention our awesome local talent. We are extremely proud to have provided a place in Fort Stockton for local musicians to be able to showcase their work, as well as to have attracted many talented touring musicians.”
The wide variety of live music coupled with the high quality coffee and drinks has cemented The Garage’s place in the lives of Fort Stockton’s residents, as well as becoming a regular stop for travelers on Interstate 10 and on the road to the Big Bend.
“We’ve gotten to know so many great people, from everywhere, who now make it point to stop here. The response from everyone has been phenomenal. Our priority is our local community, though. We wanted to bring something to Fort Stockton that was lacking. A place for local artists and performers to shine, where the community could come enjoy a wide range of music and entertainment in an environment that was family-friendly,” said co-owner Renee Gaylor.
The Garage focuses on providing superior coffee—a goal they set out to attain long before the doors were ever opened.
“We were tired of big chain store hype and of getting served chalky drink mixes. So making sure we had high quality drinks was one of the first goals we set. We partnered with a regional roaster, Big Bend Coffee Roasters in Marfa, to provide fresh coffee. And then we were able to build a drink menu that consistently provides quality, variety and great taste. It was important that we were able to provide that same level of quality to our non-coffee beverages as well, so we take just as much pride in our teas, fruit chillers and coolers (Italian sodas),” Gaylor said.
The Garage also has fun with the menu—with drinks often named by regular customers, such as the Sea Pop Cooler, or the Rave latte. Other drinks became part of the regular menu when customers wanted a specialty drink to stay after a promotional time, such as the Zombie.
Allie Sumner, co-owner, said, “The drink naming is as varied as the customers. We have the Knucklehead and Panhead, the AllieCat, and Bananas Foster.”
With over 40 flavors available, the combinations are endless.
The vibe at The Garage is laid back and fun. Everyone feels welcome.
“We wanted to show everyone that it’s okay to be different. We’ve had people say they were skeptical about coming in because of our logo (skull with engine rod crossbones and coffee cup pistons), but when they came in and met the staff and experienced the atmosphere of the shop, they relaxed; and once they tried our drinks, they were hooked,” said Gaylor.
The Garage credits much of its success to the high level of customer service provided by the Coffee Mechanics.
“We prefer ‘Coffee Mechanic’ to ‘barista’ because not only does it fit our theme but these baristas ‘fix your coffee up right.’ You can’t just have a high quality product and expect it to be successful; the preparation and presentation is every bit as important as the ingredients. The people are part of the experience at The Garage,” Gaylor said.
That’s one of the reasons The Garage does not have a drive-through window.
“We know in today’s fast-paced world, a drive-through is a godsend for many, especially if with a tired child or running late. But we want our customers to take a break from that part of their lives. Get out, come in and let us hand make a drink just for you, with a smile. Sometimes, that one act can turn your whole day around,” said Gaylor.
When The Garage opened, the owners weren’t sure how things were going to go. But they opened with the full commitment to staying for the long term.
“Everything we are is in this shop. It’s going to be the future for our family. It’s not something we went into casually. We wanted something that we’d be proud of. That we could hand down to our grandchildren, that they’d be proud of. Something this whole community could be proud of,” Gaylor said.
The Garage is constantly being updated, with the most recent additions being additional seating and central AC in the music hall. There are plans to expand the coffee shop and make more renovations to the building.
“I don’t think we will ever reach a point where we say ‘we’re done.’ There are so many things left to complete that are part of our original business plan, and every month we have more ideas from customers and staff, and we’d love to do them all,” said Gaylor.
Besides building renovations, The Garage has other plans for 2016.
“Some of the things we are looking into starting up are a monthly movie night where we screen cult classic films and a monthly game night, as well an annual car and bike show, and an annual local art show and competition,” said Brian Gaylor, co-owner. “We started with all my girls dreaming about putting together a business where each of them had input about what we should do, that involved their talents and interests. We started looking into the (coffee) bean to use, and let me tell you we drank a lot of coffee. Then God shined on us and sent us a one-of-a-kind guy named Jim. He had what we needed, and we had what he needed. We saw the potential in a piece of Fort Stockton history—a building built in 1904, full of parts. We started the work of turning it into the dream we all had envisioned. Through a lot of hard work from family and friends, we got it to what you see today. If it wasn’t for all involved, we would not be open. I would like to say thank you to everyone. This is a family-run small-town business. The staff is amazing; the drinks are amazing; and the music is something to die for. Thank you everyone for supporting our family dream for years to come.”
Allie Sumner is glad to be part of it: “It felt like it happened so fast, but really it was in the works for years. Before I knew it, this dream that was only discussed privately for so long became a reality.”
Chrissi Sumner said, “We brought something to the community that it did not yet have, an array of great live music and great coffee. Our first year went well beyond expected, and we are looking forward to another great year at The Garage.”
Local and touring musicians have much to say about The Garage.
“The Garage is the best coffee shop in town and the live music makes it the most unique gathering place for people of all ages. (They) continually bring in talent from coast to coast as well as providing a stage for local musicians to share their talent. If you don’t frequent The Garage Coffee Music and More for your morning, mid-day and evening cup of java, you’re missing out on the hottest non alcoholic entertainment spot west of The Pecos,” said Tom Ezell, AKA Snotty Kicks, of Fort Stockton.
In celebration of the business’ anniversary, The Garage is having a Birthday Bash on Saturday, Sept.19. Featuring performances by local and regional bands and artists, the event will include a catered brisket dinner, door prizes and birthday cake. Tickets for the event range from $10 to $50. It kicks off at 4 pm, and ticket holders are free to come and go to attend any or all of the concerts and events.
Schedule of events:
Silent Auction of local art all day. Bidding closes at 7 p.m.
Door prizes 4–10 p.m.
4 p.m. Pursuer (heavy metal)
5 p.m. The David Berkowitz Quintet (rock)
6 p.m. Bryon Garrison and The Rain Makers (country, rockabilly)
Dinner catered by B’s Family Dining
8 p.m. The Thumpin’ Puppies (dunebilly, original)
9 p.m. Birthday Cake Celebration
9 p.m. Snotty Hicks (country)