Find Your Niche and get your caffeine fix! by Kerrie Sparks // food-sparks.com
We’ve been exploring Dallas niches lately, and we sure do love the digs over at The Pearl Cup. Two lovely ladies who hail from Austin, Rita Davis and Carlene Saelg, are making their dreams come true—and garnering quite a fan base—as they make their stake in Dallas. We sat down with our Mexican Hot Chocolate on a chilly December morning and pondered a few questions for the gals.
KS: How did the concept of The Pearl Cup come about?
PC: Upon moving to Dallas, we wanted to create an environment that was a hip, but comfortable, coffee-centric gathering place for the community.
KS: You chose to set up camp in the Knox/Henderson area, which is quickly becoming a great location for new restaurant and bar concepts. Since you and Carlene came here from Austin three years ago, how did you come to know the area, and that it would be a great place to set up shop?
PC: Initially, we just kept finding ourselves drawn to the area; M-Streets, Lakewood and Henderson Avenue all had so much character. We were told that Henderson Avenue was geared toward being the next "place to be". Two years ago, during construction, it was very different. We had to think completely outside of the box and be able to have the vision it took to embrace the potential.
KS: Who makes up the design team for the shop, interiors and exterior?
PC: We were on a very tight budget, self-funding the project, so we were the design team for the interiors. Much of the design was determined by the shape of the space and the type of business we are. The building project developers designed the exterior of the building.
KS: Your interior space is very community and user friendly, and I love the use of mix-and-match tables and chairs, both modern and retro. What was most important when deciding on the ambiance you wanted the shop to convey?
PC: As far as the ambiance, it needed to be welcoming; modern but not too sterile or cold. Rita has dealt in antiques for decades and has always appreciated the warmth and character that is found with an older piece of furniture or accessory. The shop is dynamic, always changing in some subtle way.
KS: Your beans are sourced from Texas roasters, but are there any local or sustainable materials used within the space?
PC: We do use a local roaster, Eiland, for our house blend, espresso and some tasty drip coffees. We also use Cuvee, out of the Austin area. We also have a guest espresso which changes every few months.
We had the shop insulated with a soy-based product. We try to reduce waste in several ways, such as using porcelain cups and plates as normal procedure with paper goods as the exception. We are also firm believers in re-purposing!
KS: You’ve made a name for yourselves with The Pearl Latte™, but I have to say your Mexican Hot Chocolate is pretty kickin’ – and it’s pretty! What items on your menu do you gravitate to most?
PC: We both love our Italian cappuccino! It's hard to choose a favorite because of our routines that involve coffee. For Rita, Pearl Cup Blend or single origin drip in the morning and cappuccinos later in the day. For Carlene, Italian cappuccinos all the way! We also have several fabulous teas. We use Sterling Tea out of Rockwall, their teas are delicious! Rita drinks it hot or cold!
KS: How excited were you to receive D Magazine’s 2010 Best Coffeehouse in Dallas recognition? What has it meant for your business?
PC: It's fantastic receiving that accolade. It was every bit as rewarding and exciting as being acknowledged by them last year for the 2009 Best Latte! Being on any of D Magazine's Best of Lists is an honor.
The recognition brings in new faces who often become "regulars" and that is terrific. It's the best part of a coffee shop - the relationships you build.
KS: The next best thing to caffeine is _________? PC: That's a tough one!!!
KS: Cookies or cake? PC: COOKIES! All kinds of cookies!!
KS: Favorite websites/blogs? PC: NY Times.com; msn.com home and garden; nbc news.com "making a difference" series… (makes Rita cry – “gives me hope”!)
KS: Favorite thing about Dallas so far? PC: Some very good food and some really wonderfully authentic people!
And there you have it. Hitch up your MacBook, grab a book, or maybe those stacks of magazines collecting dust on your dining room table, and visit Rita and Carlene at The Pearl Cup. They’ll be nice to you, I swear. You can while away the day sipping your addiction of choice as you “work from home” (read: updating FaceBook and LinkedIn), and they won’t even kick you out! Mi casa es su caffeinated casa! Errr, whatever, you get it.
The Pearl Cup 1900 Henderson Ave, Ste B Dallas, TX 75206 thepearlcup.com 214.824.9500 M-F: 7am-9pm Sat/Sun: 9am-9pm
Kerrie Sparks is the art director of a North Texas arts and architecture magazine and has quite the foodie following at www.food-sparks.com