Monks Coffee Shop, a popular café in downtown Abilene, will open a new location near campus early February, instead of opening in January as previously planned. The new spot will be located at 1333 Ambler Ave. across the street from Hardin-Simmons University and will share a store space with Books 2 U, a college textbook buyback business.
Owner Jerry Hendrix said he originally planned to open the new site in January, but he hit a standstill over the holidays. Because of a setback that delayed the inspection process a few days, the new location still has to undergo inspections for fire and occupancy codes. He hopes the inspections will be complete this Thursday.
He also said the café hired a few new employees in anticipation of the opening, but is not yet fully staffed. However, the health inspection is finished and all necessary equipment secured, leaving the shop in a good position to open soon after the remaining inspections.
Hendrix, who also owns a T-shirt business on 2nd Street, says the decor will differ from the artsy setup of the original shop to fit the surroundings and appeal to collegiate customers. The new site will likely have a television and little to no art on the walls.
“It’s definitely more of an academic feel because it’s in a bookstore,” said barista Jessalyn Massingill, who helped plan the theme of the new location. “This place is really homey. People come in here, sit on a couch and feel at home, but the new place will have a completely different atmosphere.”
Massingill also said that the new site is not expected to affect the business of the original café. She said many people come in for the ambiance, so while the new shop may attract new customers and people who need quick cups of coffee on the go, the Cypress shop will maintain its regular clientele.
Monks is known as a gathering place, a community of its own in which students can study and talk for hours. The café hosts Sunday Bible studies, which will move from the Cypress St. shop to the main room of the new location to encourage more students to participate.
Music also plays a big role in the shop’s success. The small Abilene staple has had intimate concerts from performers such as the Civil Wars and Aaron Gillespie. On Thursday nights crowds who wish to perform or watch their friends embarrass themselves flock to Monks for open mic night.
Hendrix took the opportunity to expand his business after being approached by Books 2 U. The small bookstore is only open two weeks a year, finals week of each semester, and needed to sublet its space. The owners approached Hendrix because of the similarity of the two businesses’ clientele.
Plans to open a second store had always been on Hendrix’s radar, but were pushed back because of his other business ventures. When Books 2 U approached him, he knew it was a good fit and jumped on the opportunity to partner up. Now that a second Monks location is about to open, Hendrix has further expansion in mind.
“It’s easier, once you have two shops, to already be thinking about the next one,” said Hendrix. “We’ve talked about it and we have some concepts in mind, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”