With inflation and rise of big businesses, the push for small businesses has become stronger then ever, fighting for survival against competitors with never ending funds. This column is here to highlight the hidden gems in Corpus Christi and their owners. So to kick off I’m starting with everyone’s favorite place to meet friends, study, read, work, and just hang out, a coffee shop.
Café Calypso is understated and cozy with a warm welcome, the way I would describe being here is like a hug in a mug. Café Calypso isn’t just a coffee shop, they serve fresh made sammies, quiche, cakes, cookies, muffins and many other goods to feed you during your time with them.
Café Calypso also roasts all their beans and sells coffee beans for wholesale. Their selection is wide ranging from Africa to South America to South Asia/Oceania to Central America. While they offer all these services, the best part is their drinks. The carefully crafted specialty drinks menu continues to draw people back in looking for a nice addition to their day with the guarantee of good coffee.
Marcy Okumus started the café with her late husband Erdal Okumus when they moved to Corpus Christi in 1993, they began as a small cart in the mall. Marcy grew up here in Corpus Christi and met Erdal when she was living overseas in Turkey, they owned two cafes there before moving back. While they both tried to work in other career fields they were drawn back to coffee and owning a café.
She employs about 12 people to work around school schedules to make sure the café is covered. Most of their employees are college students who are working their way through college, and many past employees are students they helped get through school.
Q: What were the biggest surprises when starting your business?
A: We wanted to open a coffee shop because we couldn’t find coffee we loved in Corpus and we knew we could do it. We started very small with a cart in the center of the mall. We really relied on word of mouth for advertising, it is very surprising how far that went and continues to go.
Q: What were the biggest surprises with Covid?
A: People stuck with us, employees and customers, but you realize how tenuous the food supply can be, keeping and finding quality ingredients became harder. Constantly trying stock up and keep the business going. We just kept changing out tactics to make it work.
Q: What is your advice to someone wanting to start their own business?
A: Do your research on location and be realistic on how much time you can put into it. My husband and I worked it completely ourselves seven days a week and didn’t hire out labor which is the biggest expense. You make money when you’re willing to do it yourself. You have to learn it inside and out before you can teach other people to do it.
Q: How do you advertise?
A: The marketing is my biggest challenge. Social media opens many doors for advertising, but you have to be consistent with it. If you don’t open it every day it’s very easy to forget about it.
Q: What would you like people to know about your coffee shop?
A: First I am a coffee roaster, I’ve been roasting coffee for 26 years. I import the beans from over 20 different countries and roast them each to what I consider their premium roasting quality. The freshness and variety is super important. Knowledge of the areas where the beans come from is important for deciding how the beans are roasted and prepared. We are open to everyone and love people some come see us!
Café Calypso is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday (9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. through 8 p.m. on Sunday. Also they only take cash and check so keep that plastic in your wallet!
You can visit them in Moore Plaza on S Padre Island Dr #185 Corpus Christi Tx, 78411 connected to Half Priced Books or call at 361-993-5282.
Editor’s Note: The author of this column is an employee at Café Calypso.