A litany of rumors has circulated over the last month surrounding the closure and future of Ambrosia Coffee House, which may have been McAllen’s most popular beer-selling coffee shop until it shut its doors mid-July.
Some suspected the announcement of Ambrosia’s closing was a public relations ploy, meant to spur an outpouring of disappointment before the owner would unexpectedly remodel the building and resurrect it as a bar.
Others believed the owner would close for good but that they could take it upon themselves to keep Ambrosia’s doors open by organizing and raising money. They came together via several Facebook groups and pushed an effort to save the business, even discussing plans that revolved around relocating it in Edinburg, though none has yet come to fruition.
Ambrosia’s owner, Nick Anzaldua, has said several reasons ultimately contributed to closing and that, while he might consider reopening Ambrosia at another location later, it wouldn’t likely be reestablished at its previous address, 1000 Martin Avenue. He also has no plans to reopen the shop in the immediate future.
He said rent on the building near the time Ambrosia closed in mid-July spiked to an amount he was not willing to pay. And the business never turned a profit; at times it lost money for the proprietor. Anzaldua said he enjoyed running the shop as a single man, regardless of whether it made money. But his priorities have since changed.
“I didn’t spend any money (on myself) and my living was sacrificed for a long time because of that place,” he said. “Now I’m starting a family and it just seems like there, in that location, Ambrosia, you know, is dead there. It will never grow old now.”
The shop owner said there was once merit to a rumor that Ambrosia would be reopened as a bar but that “it was unrealistic for doing it at that spot.”
“There were too many people who loved certain things that you get at a coffee shop and… I just thought ‘it’s not a good idea to go and change it now right here,’” he said. “…I noticed too many young people coming in and buying coffee things and I didn’t want to shoo my business there.”
He said “dumbing things down” or “cutting costs everywhere” were not options as the shop was “a reflection of myself.”
The coffee/ice house was a popular haunt for a budding arts scene and served as an intimate venue for local band performances and art shows; there was a small rack of vinyl albums for sale near the bar. The former home’s old hardwood floors, small patio, homey décor and the aroma of coffee gave the impression of sitting in a friend’s living room, a feeling apparently shared by many of the patrons who tried to keep it from closing.
Anzaldua said that if he chose to reopen the shop at some point, it would have a similar aesthetic appeal and feel to its predecessor.
“If it was going to be (somewhere) different, it would have to be something cool,” he said. “You know I did really love that location and it was the first location I looked at.”
It was a juxtaposition of financial struggles against lament from Ambrosia supporters that made the business’ closure bitter sweet.
“That part of my life is over right now but I think it’s a positive thing for someone who really wants to take care of his baby and his wife,” Anzaldua said.
In the meantime, the former coffee shop owner says he will concentrate on his band, his family and his 5-month-old recording studio. But he doesn’t abandon all hope of a grand reopening.
“Considering that there are so many people who love it and everything…if something comes up and it just kind of happens, I’m not ruling it out,” Anzaldua said. “I do love the kind of people it brings and basically the art and the fun and the good times and the music… especially the music. So watch out for it one day.”