Corrina Perez, the new owner of La Taza Coffee House
When Judith Hanley decided to retire early this spring, the future of La Taza Coffee House
was momentarily in peril. Neighbors who have frequented the Brook Hollow* coffee shop for their morning joe, business meetings, book clubs and Meet-ups won't have to mourn the loss of their coffee-house-turned-community-center as it reopens its doors this Saturday with new owners.
Corrina Perez, a local actor and high school theater teacher, has taken on the daunting task of keeping the shop own and making it her own, while still keeping patrons happy.
"When we moved back from the Netherlands, this is where I'd come to house-shop with their wi-fi, meet my realtor," Perez said.
It was during her time in Europe that she developed a love of coffee shop as a third space that's not home or work, but an in between for everyone where anyone can feel comfortable stopping in.
Perez, mother of three boys, turned La Taza, which opened in 2007, into an office where she could go grade papers and plan for her week, and an art gallery where her oldest could sell his photography work. As her boys grew older, they're now 22, 19 and 13, she thought about ways to have a family business where she could instill work ethic in them.
Taking over the 10-year-establishment meant business 101 from close family friends such as chef Jeff Balfour of Southerleigh. The families met at soccer practices and games and have known each other for more than 10 years. Balfour helped Perez navigate the seemingly random fees associated with owning a business (parking lot fees, using product as her coffee roaster trains new baristas, etc.) and how to push past said hurdles.
Changes are few, but integral. There's a new lick of paint (in "mojito" for those wondering") and art will rotate on a monthly basis (Frida fans should check out Connie Hisel's work for the month of July). A shiny Faema E61 Legend is now charged with La Taza's new espresso menu that uses double-filtered water. For Perez, partnering with a coffee roaster meant having someone take her by the hand and lead her through the process. La Taza 2.0 will now carry Katz Coffee out of Houston, which is growing its presence in San Antonio. Though not a hardcore coffee drinker, she's definitely sipping and tasting more cups these days. Perez is still keeping drip coffee, for regulars who need their fix in the morning on their way to work.
Eventually, the plan is to integrate crepes into the menu, but for now, Perez and co. are offering muffins, cookies and snacks from neighboring Bagel Factory.
She mentioned regulars who have pitched in with coffee cuppings and sanding down tables. Folks who she says aren't clamoring at the door asking when she'll open, but how they can help.
"This space is important," Perez said.
La Taza will reopen at 9 a.m. Saturday.
15060 San Pedro Ave., (210) 494-8292.
*The article has been updated with the correct use of Brook Hollow.