Criste Reynolds spent four years managing Jesus Maria Restaurant in Beeville, and throughout that time, a seed that had been planted in her brain several years before had continued growing as she soaked up as much knowledge about the restaurant industry as she could.
That seedling finally came into full bloom Jan. 11 when Reynolds welcomed the public to her coffee and smoothie shop, CC’s.
“I knew I wanted a coffee shop, I just didn’t know where or when,” Reynolds said about the shop, which is located at 416 N. St. Mary’s Street in downtown.
“I was just working and saving and figuring out the way the restaurant did everything.
“You walk in, and you feel comfortable. You feel like you’re at home. You feel welcomed.”
In a building that sits along a long-forgotten railway and was once home to a lumber company, Reynolds has built a quaint coffee shop with some funky, yet modern, decor.
As you step inside, the whir of a blender grabs your attention, the smell of freshly brewed coffee and tea envelops you, and a unique moss wall – complete with a handmade CC’s metal sign – draws your eye and almost begs you to take a selfie for your Instagram feed.
“It took a lot of work, for sure,” Reynolds said with a laugh as she talked about the renovation process, which began last July.
Slowly, Reynolds turned what many people told her was a lost cause into the business she had dreamed about for more than a decade.
She did everything from updating the electrical, to refinishing the floors and the original ship lap ceiling, to hanging metal siding, to painting the exterior a dark grey with bright green accents around the windows.
“Every day since July, we’ve been working on it,” she said. “Every single day, every weekend, until 7 or 8 p.m.”
She said “we” because she got plenty of help from her most fervent supporter: her father, Remigio Luna.
“Whenever I told him what I wanted, he was able to make it happen,” she said about the work her father put in to help make her dream become a reality.
“I wanted it modern, and I wanted it hippy, and I wanted it elegant at the same time. I just wanted everyone to feel welcome,” she said about her vision for the vibe of CC’s.
Reynolds and her staff of eight opened the doors to CC’s at 6 a.m. on Jan. 11.
“I was anxious and excited,” she said about the grand opening. “I couldn’t sleep all night (the night before). It was just like, ‘OK, I want this open already.’
“I didn’t even do a ribbon cutting; I was just like, ‘Let’s just open the doors,” she added with a laugh.
The menu, just as much as the vibe and the decor, are an extension of Reynolds.
The shop’s selection of smoothies are largely all Reynolds’ own concoctions, including the two “immune boosters” as she calls them, the Hulk and the UpBeet.
The Hulk – the shop’s biggest drink, which only comes in the 24-ounce size, because it only makes sense for the Hulk to the biggest obviously – is a mix of fresh mint, celery, cucumber, green apple, kale, spinach and lime. It’s meant to boost your energy and metabolism and also helps deliver a kick of iron to the body, Reynolds said.
The UpBeet is a mix of beets and red apples, and it’s also meant to help with energy and circulation, Reynolds said.
Both the Hulk and the UpBeet, Reynolds said, are good for diabetics, something she said was inspired by her mother, María Elena Luna, a diabetic who has longed to become less dependent on the cacophony of pills it takes to regulate the disease.
The Hulk, Reynolds said, has been particularly popular – including three visitors ordering full one-gallon jugs of it – as has CC’s Honey Vanilla latte and the Harry Potter Butter Beer.
“I wanted stuff that was healthy but also delicious because that’s what I’m all about,” Reynolds said.
“My motivation to workout is food,” she said with a chuckle.
“If I can have something that is healthy but tastes just as good as the bad stuff, I’m all for that.”
For the first week, only drinks were on the menu.
That will change, though, with the introduction of a sourdough grilled cheese with caramelized onions and bacon that will pair with a tomato basil bisque.
Reynolds’ own chicken salad recipe will also eventually make its way onto the menu.
The menu will be ever-evolving, Reynolds said, as will the shop.
She said she has her eyes set on installing an intercom system and a larger menu sign for the drive thru, and also wants to create an outdoor patio in front of the building.
CC’s is open from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Monday.