A neighborhood bar transformed into a community scene.
By Adriana Ruiz
Bringing a positively caffeinated vibe to his West Side neighborhood while balancing evening classes and working a full-time job is what communication sophomore Gilberto De Hoyos Jr. is serving up.
De Hoyos has no prior experience in coffee or business, but that has not stopped him from helping his father start up a coffeehouse focusing on the simple things in life.
Just six months ago, the De Hoyos family opened Barrio Barista and Bargains at 3735 Culebra Road, transforming a former bar into a quaint, cozy and eclectic coffeehouse serving everything from barbacoa tacos to vegetarian tamales to smoothies.
De Hoyos said he and his father opened the coffeehouse to offer residents a positive place to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee without the strains of a standard coffee shop.
De Hoyos said they call themselves a coffeehouse instead of a coffee shop because patrons will be treated like family instead of just another customer.
“You won’t be treated like just any person,” De Hoyos said. “We offer students an environment outside of the library. It’s keeping it local in an organic environment.”
He said the coffeehouse is small, quiet and personal unlike large coffee shops.
“Starbucks is like the McDonald’s of the coffee industry,” De Hoyos said.
Valerie Saenz, English junior at St. Mary’s University, said it was her first time at the coffeehouse with her mother, Angie Trinidad.
Saenz said she enjoyed the atmosphere because she and her mother could have a quiet and private moment.
“(I’m) glad there is a coffeehouse in the neighborhood because you don’t always find them in this area,” Saenz said.
De Hoyos said the business will become a permanent fixture in the community.
Frequent customer Alvino Medellin said he used to spend a lot of time at the location back when it was a bar.
“I used to be a bartender, and I used to work here,” Medellin said. “I used to spend a lot of time drinking here.”
Medellin said he still spends a lot of time at the coffeehouse, volunteering his time while drinking lots of fresh coffee.
Balancing school, work and the coffeehouse is not an easy task, De Hoyos said, but focusing and using his time wisely has kept him on track.
De Hoyos spends his weekends helping his father in the coffeehouse and said he takes advantage of the slow times to catch up on schoolwork.
“It’s my getaway as well,” De Hoyos said. “I bring my schoolwork with me and read for a bit.”
De Hoyos said he hopes to transfer to Texas A&M University-San Antonio to work on a degree in communications.
Barrio Barista and Bargains is open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday-Sunday.
The coffeehouse is closed Thursdays.
For more information, visit barriobarista.wix.com/barriobarrista.