June 13, 2019 422 PM
MARFA – For years, people asked Daniel and Jessie Browning where would they open another location of their coffee shops and laundromats. Would it be Terlingua, Van Horn or maybe Presidio?
“It felt right in San Angelo,” said Jessie.
The Brownings are leaving Marfa this summer to open a new location in San Angelo. They moved to Marfa from Austin when they were newlyweds in their late 20s with no children, and now they’re leaving as seasoned business owners with four daughters.
They opened the Tumbleweed Laundry in 2007 in Marfa.
Two years later, Daniel heard the two local coffee shops were closing, so with Jessie’s barista experience, they opened Frama next door to the laundromat.
“Everybody loves the idea of the laundromat attached to the coffee shop, but there really wasn’t a master plan. It was just out of necessity. We had this space. We had the square footage,” said Daniel.
Frama reached the 10-year milestone of serving coffee every day, which is no small feat in Far West Texas.
Plaine coffee shop opened its doors in late 2011 in Alpine and the laundromat opened next door in 2014.
Daniel debuted his nitro coffee called Tumbleweed Toddy in 2016 and is available in coffee shops around Far West Texas.
Remembering the timeline came easy for Jessie as she can relate everything to who was a baby and when she was pregnant.
“We basically had a kid for every division of our business,” said Daniel.
“I’m not pregnant this time,” said Jessie.
During the Brownings’ vacation last summer, they were driving around San Angelo looking for a cup of joe that wasn’t from a Starbucks.
“Anywhere we go, we look for coffee shops, and there was only one,” said Jessie.
Another San Angelo coffee shop has opened and closed since then, but the idea to open another coffee shop came after seeing the very few local options in a town of 100,000 people. The Brownings thought about it while they were on the road for a month. Daniel wanted to go to a bigger market that wasn’t saturated with coffee shops. When the vacation was over, they decided do it with the goal to open by 2020.
The new location will require a full renovation of an old flower shop near the Shannon Medical Center in downtown San Angelo. The plan is to use the space for a laundromat and coffee shop similar to their other two locations. They also hope to convert the old greenhouse for a food truck court.
The name will not be an anagram of Marfa and Alpine like they did with Frama and Plain though. Jessie ran “San Angelo” through anagram generators and Daniel said “gone nasal” was the best they could come up with.
“Our desires to grow and expand exceed what the anagrams can keep up with,” said Daniel. “It worked here and we wanted to set these two cities up to very much be sister stores.”
He added that they will have to rebuild the brand with the San Angelo location, but that gives them more freedom. At first, the Brownings thought they could open the San Angelo location while living in Marfa.
“Then we started to think that critically,” said Jessie. “Wait a minute. What makes more sense? These locations have been sustaining for seven to 10 years now. It makes more sense to let them continue on as they have been for years and while we go and nurture the new project.”
Having a management structure in place gave the Brownings the confidence to proceed. Jose Grajeda currently manages both locations.
“We’re lucky enough to get Joe,” said Daniel. “He came to us looking for a job to manage one coffee shop. We’re like ‘Yes! Start tomorrow. You can manage both.’”
Moving to San Angelo to open the new shops means leaving Marfa though, a decision that didn’t come lightly. Jessie feels nervous and excited about the change.
“Even thinking about leaving Marfa was a huge emotional process,” said Jessie.
“It would be much more difficult if we didn’t still have roots in Marfa with the businesses,” said Daniel. “Our main presence in Marfa and Alpine are our businesses and they’re not going anywhere.”
The Brownings put their property in Antelope Hills and their house in Marfa on the market and closed the commercial laundry business, which sparked rumors that other parts of the businesses were closing too. It’s important for Jessie to let people know that nothing is closing. The Marfa and Alpine locations will remain the same as it currently is.
“You work so hard to make a business run and it is now,” said Jessie. “I’m not selling it now. We put in the hard years.”