Q's Cafe Feels Warm Welcome from Denton
It’s been a little over two weeks since Q’s Cafe, Denton’s new 24-hour LGBTQ-friendly hangout spot, opened. Transitioning from their soft opening hours to just this past weekend beginning the 24-hour schedule, owners Lil Williams and Stephanie Davis have had a lot on their plates to make the inception of their heartwarming, Kickstarter-funded cafe into an operating and moving business.
Davis said one of the best parts of these past two weeks is how understanding their crowd has related to the hiccups of a new business.
“Everyone is super-supportive,” Davis said. “Let’s say something took too long or we ran out of an item, everyone is like, ‘Oh, it’s okay! Y'all are a startup, it’s just your soft opening.’ Everyone has been real accommodating and really awesome.”
When The Dentonite talked with Davis in February, the original goal was to have the space up and running by April. But the luck of having the spot open during Denton’s Pride Week was serendipitous.
Davis even said that after some of the PRIDENTON events at bars Oak St. Drafthouse and Harvest House, people found it easy to come and hang out at Q’s before getting behind the wheel, something the owners are hoping their space becomes with the late-night hours.
"I’m happy to provide the space and the food and the coffee and all the things for them to sit here and take care of themselves, get on their feet,” Davis said.
“That’s been the plan from the beginning, to have that spot once the bars are closed to just have a chill moment and not rush off somewhere or rush off into the streets,” Williams said.
With only a couple of events behind them, they are looking to have a wide variety of events hosted at Q’s. Besides karaoke and their weekly Sunday Drag Storytime, they have several ideas and collaborations with local groups and collectives pending. Davis said they were surprised how many people showed up to the first Drag Storytime with minimal advertisement. She said around fifteen to twenty kids showed up.
Davis, who has kids of her own, said it was great to meet like-minded parents. She said her children have been hanging out around Q’s and are already being friendly with the regulars, giving out high-fives and hugs.
And yes, within just two weeks, the place already has regulars. Davis proves this while spouting off a vegan BLT and vegan fry order for one of the patrons she said comes in every day.
Williams said it already seems like “the spot” for people as they come in and get comfortable setting up shop with a book or a laptop, looking cozy, as if Q’s hasn’t been around for only less than a month.
“It’s just nice to have options to float around,” Williams said.
For sure, the convenience of being located in a nook next to the square may even help dilute the traffic from spots like West Oak, which have experienced an influx of business since the Mini Mall fire that brought down Jupiter House back in December.
Their varied and zany menu has excited the palates of many patrons. Brandishing an extensive smoothie menu, locally brewed coffee options, salad and sandwich options during the day, and a fair-style menu comprising Dr. Pepper wings, and fried Oreos at night, the two have made it their mission to appease the taste buds of all Dentonites.
“We are just trying to have options for everyone,” Williams said. “Just trying to see what the people want, and giving the people what they want,” Davis added.
Observing their customers, the owners have taken it upon themselves to play with ideas. Noticing the vegan bacon sandwich topping sales in their first week and the popularity of the vegan chili, they are now looking to add more vegan options and scouting for gluten-free bread vendors for the menu.
The business is currently awaiting the TABC license that permits them to sell alcohol. They said it should hopefully be ready in time for back-to-school season. Williams said one of the most surprising parts of the business is how well the smoothies are selling because they were an afterthought, a filler bar for where the beer will eventually be. With a base-option plus fruit-combo setup, Q's smoothies have unintentionally become their very first trademark.
“I think half of our sales are from smoothies,” Davis said. “We had to up our smoothie game.”
Besides the set menu items they have, Davis said a lot of the food they sell also comes from not wanting to waste food. They have sold bread pudding; the vegan chili uses leftover vegetables; and staff member Grace, noticing the bananas growing too soft, made banana muffins one morning. Both said they are allowing their staff to show their creative sides, coming up with menu item ideas and possibly having a Taco Tuesday featuring eclectic taco choices in the future.
Not wanting to sugarcoat the whole experience, it must be said the transition has not been perfect. Both owners, making the establishment their full-time jobs, have put all their money into the existence of Q’s. So when one of their three air conditioner units went out, their wallets could not provide. But relying on their sales and putting forth the idea of selling some fun T-shirts to raise money for a new unit has kept them hopeful. Friends and customers have even provided box fans to set around the cafe to keep air circulating.
Even with this slight inconvenience in the middle of a hot Denton summer, the two said they are still figuring things out, but are ultimately happy with where they are at the moment and with where Q’s is headed.
“It’s been very extraordinary. From the very first planning to actually operating, it’s obviously a lot different but still just a very fascinating process,” Williams said. “My heart is full every day I meet my customers, seeing new faces, old familiar faces, and everything in-between.”
Davis said the experience has been humbling, and that the restaurant has become a home away from home already.
“Even yesterday someone offered to work the rest of my shift,” Davis said. “I was going to take them up on it but I was here, I was in the groove, and I was like, I don’t really feel like going home.”
Photos and header design by Tori Falcon.