Five Questions With Margaret Smelser of Tesla's Cafe

Five Questions With Margaret Smelser of Tesla's Cafe

Drive down Washington Avenue, and you’ll see a beautiful Victorian house. If your windows are rolled down, you’ll smell the smokiness of darn good bbq wafting from behind the house. Margaret Smelser and Heath Collard moved to Waco and fulfilled Margaret’s dream (literally) of owning a restaurant in a Victorian mansion. We sat down to eat some food and learn more.

  1. How did you get started?

    When I was still living in New Mexico, I literally had a dream one night about opening a sandwich shop in a victorian mansion. I forgot about it until Heath (business and life partner) and I were moving from New Mexico and saw this old building (built in the 1887) when we were going through Waco. I knew we had to have it! Turns out the owner was going to list it on Craigslist the very next day. We jumped on it.
  2. Tell me how you landed on the name Tesla’s Cafe?

    We had a different name and logo but as we were driving to our accountant’s to register our LLC, I told Heath it wasn’t right and I don’t what know to what but we need to change it. I turned on the XM radio and as I did, the band Tesla came on and I said “How about Tesla’s?” Heath replied “How about Tesla’s Cafe”. And I liked it! It turned out he was thinking about Tesla the inventor while I was thing about the band but we both liked it.
  3. What’s the concept behind Tesla’s?

    We want this place to be a friendly homemade vibe where people can come and hang out and eat home cooking. We knew we wanted to have craft beer and coffee because those are two things we love. But to get your license for craft beer, you have to serve food. Heath always loved to smoke his own bbq so we brought our smoker and started smoking! My sister introduced me to homemade ice cream so we serve that as well.
  4. Tell me about the ice cream.

    The ice cream is homemade and made with local ingredients. The type of vanilla you use is huge, and we use fresh-roasted, vanilla bean syrup from Chaney brothers who also supply our coffee. Every batch is a little different and tastes exactly like what I want it to be today.
  5. As new Wacoans and business owners, what do you love about Waco?

    The people. When we first came to visit, the people were really welcoming. We felt at home here instantly. And there has been so much support for the cafe, people stopping by and even volunteering to help us.

6 Spots To Eat Like A Local in Evansville

6 Spots To Eat Like A Local in Evansville

You don't have to live in Evansville to understand that this city's cuisine scene is in a league of its own. Whether you're on the lookout for a hearty lunch stop, a leisurely dinner experience or a delectable dessert, let your tastebuds dance with the options below. You'll be happy you did. And you'll be full, so, bonus. 

  1. If you didn't know that Italian-Thai Fusion is a thing, you've clearly never stopped by Pangea Kitchen before. Awaiting within, a symphony of flavor spanning two continents, intermingled in your next meal. And it works.
  2. Then again, comfort food comes in many forms, and for some, somewhere around the time your Hot Pot steaming broth arrives, Yang's Shabu Shabu ushers you to happiness. 
  3. Drop by The Dapper Pig on Mondays and take part in the chef's tasting menu, a culinary playground where flavors trot out to play. There's a reason that pig's so dapper: he's expecting company.  The other days are pretty tempting, too.
  4. Save room for dessert! Milk & Sugar Scoop Shoppe keeps your sugar rush on speed dial with a Belgian Waffle with Sticky Bun icing at the ready. Should you prefer your ice cream piled high on a cone instead, they've got you.
  5. The Pizza Revolution will not be televised...but it will be on a bus. This double decker British style bus is turning out some of the most astonishing Neopolitan-style pizza Evansville's ever seen. Bring your appetite, they'll bring you the wood-fired delight.
  6. What's not to love about comfort food staples against the live music backdrop at Lamasco Bar & Grill? Breakfast time can be anytime here, as they're dealing morning meals (and more) all day long.

6 Lubbock Restaurants To Dine For

6 Lubbock Restaurants To Dine For

Who's hungry? Lubbock's many local restaurants are only too happy to send you home stuffed, whether you crave a breakfast bite, a lunchtime pick-me-up, or a leisurely dinner out. In fact, your toughest call might be choosing which place to stop first. Lucky for you, we can help.

  1. If you've never heard someone ask "What's a Taco Box?" you've probably never hit up Taqueria y Panaderia Guadalajara, home to just about the best street tacos you'll find in the Hub City.  Affordable, authentic, delicious.
  2. A pizza is a pizza, until it's a calzone. We've all known those days where nothing but a giant cheesy slice of pie will do  Then again, step inside Giorgio's Pizza and you may just find yourself face to face with the pizza-inside-crust wonder of a calzone. Put it in your face. That's how calzones work. 
  3. Lead with some queso. Follow with some queso. In a city unabashedly fond of Tex-Mex, Montelongo's dials up a mean enchilada plate, one destined to provide a measuring stick to which others may aspire. It's leisurely in here, but that enchilada's calling your name. Be ready. 
  4. Ride that wave.  Cast aside landlocked fare and reel in a fresh or fried catch from Shrimp Galley, who's been docked in Lubbock for years. Hearty, fresh comfort food, courtesy of savvy fishermen and the folks rendering it tasty. 
  5. Maybe dessert's your jam? Thumbprint cookies? Strawberry filled cupcakes? Yes please. Find those and other divine delights at Simply Decadent, where they take their name seriously, and translate it straight into your sweet tooth.
  6. Venture over to Cactus Alley and you'll find Cocina de La Sirena tucked away like a special secret. Perch inside or al fresco and take in the mindfully sourced, artistically revealed dishes, served with a splash of Latin American amore. A savvy move for date night.

Five Questions With RockReady Printing & Designs

Five Questions With RockReady Printing & Designs

Chances are, if you've seen any high visibility printing around Waco you've come across the work of Robert and Rudy at RockReady Printing & Designs. Their professional largesse is matched only by their genuine interest in reciprocating the support they've seen from the town they call home. 

We caught up with them recently to shed some light on what's made Waco and RockReady a perfect match.

  1. How did RockReady happen?
    Robert: This guy here; Rudy. I was working (elsewhere). But we had an opportunity to get out and get big in Waco. 

    We started out, and 3 years out we bought DigiTech,, expanded from 1,000 to 4,000 square feet in a year. That’s why we’re here now, just growing every day. 

  2. What type of work is your bread & butter?
    We do a lot of work for KSSV, radio, TV, back to school drives, and we do a lot to give back to the community as well. We like to give back and support our customers. We also do several donations to booster clubs, little leagues, and sponsored teams. 

    Our biggest giving event is back to school event, completely free, and last year we had 600 people show up. This year we’re going to expand it, with the news outlet and churches, maybe even expanding to McLane Stadium. 

  3. What would surprise folks about y'all?
    Robert: I’d say how small we are and how much we do. We have six employees and we’re running two businesses in one. We’re just big and competitive as some of your bigger name screen companies in town. 

    Rudy: ...and we always go above and beyond. We like to do it unique, and do it from scratch. It takes a little longer but we’re one-on-one with our customers. That’s how we started years ago and I think we still do that today. 

    Robert: We’re a one stop shop. You can get embroidery, signs, banners, car wrap, business cards – everything. We’ll do complete design services, from interviewing folks through creative concepts and choices. 

  4. Tell me about some of your work that's made an impact.

    Rudy: La Vega went to the playoffs and won the state championships the first year. We designed a shirt and we had lines out the door! We were open until 10pm two or three days – we couldn’t keep shirts in stock. 

    I think we put a strobe light out front so people could see. Hundreds and hundreds of people lined up outside. We had a whole assembly line going! 

  5.  What do you love about Waco?
    Rudy: Born and raised here, I like it. Not too small, not too big, we’re an hour away from Dallas and Austin. 

    Robert: Kinda the same thing… small town, big town feeling. It’s growing. Lots of local businesses. Kinda getting that San Antonio, Austin kinda feel. We hope to be part of that downtown growth as well at some point. 

7 Ways To Ace Your Perfect Day In Lubbock

7 Ways To Ace Your Perfect Day In Lubbock

Lubbock's long been a hub of artistic trailblazers and notable human legacies, where the locals are as friendly as the sky is big. Community here is a real thing, and the stories we share remind us of why we raise our families here,  start our businesses locally, and create unforgettable experiences in West Texas.  This is home.

Whether you've lived in town all your life or are new to the South Plains, here are a few can't miss options for a day here that's hard to beat. 

  1. Stay Gold.  We get it, kickstarting your morning can be feel like the odds are against you when the sun comes up. But rev your motor with a change-your-life latte from the baristas at Gold Stripe Coffee Roasters and you'll change your tune.  Grab your day by the lapel. You've got places to go.
  2. Your Tastebuds With An Exclamation Point (!) Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but it's also better with salsa.  You'll take your meal Jalisco style, thank you very much, and dig into a classic breakfast taco from Aranda's Taqueria.  Things are looking up. 
  3. Shop Til Your Clothes Pop.  Affordable fashion is literally right around the corner at The Turquoise Lily. Turn your wardrobe up to eleven with threads that meet at the intersection of comfort and chic design. New duds mean your day is trending up.
  4. Noodles or Sushi? You Decide. Take a trip to the Far East, tastebuds first. Yuyo Japanese Restaurant has been serving the kind of comfort food you don't have to travel to the other side of the globe to enjoy. Get inspired and full at once.
  5.  Don't Desert Dessert. The confections are perfection at Otto's Granary, where they believe that fine chocolate is more than a calling card, it's a life path.
  6. Turn Your Look Up To Eleven.  Nothing instills confidence like a game-changing hairstyle, and Hello Gorgeous has been transforming outlooks that turn heads for ages. They can make the boldest you look beautiful (or stick with bold, if that's your jam).
  7. Wrap With A Classic. There's a reason that the 50th St Caboose has been wildly popular for so long: they've become part of the fabric of Lubbock, a staple where friends gather to tilt a glass or cheer on the Red Raiders. They'll usher you into the evening with something hearty.


Five Questions With Dylan Washington of Pinewood Coffee Roasters

Five Questions With Dylan Washington of Pinewood Coffee Roasters

Spend five minutes with Dylan Washington, owner of Waco's Pinewood Coffee Roasters, and it becomes apparent he's not selling the brown bean for the caffeine fix. His vision of bringing people together prevails, from the warm aesthetic you'll note upon entry, to the coffee itself, which has been waking up the locals since they opened their doors in 2015.

We sat down to find out more. 

  1. How did you get started?  
    I had the idea but my business partner graduated with a business degree and had the training and gusto to do it.  We just wanted to start a community place where a community can gather. We didn’t want to be a downtown shop, a strictly neighborhood shop. There’s a lot of those in places like Austin and Dallas. We'd been roasting for three years prior.
  2. How did you get into roasting?
    I was a freshman in college and was doing it on a skillet, in my dorm. Then I met (business partner) JB and we started doing it as a serious hobby.  
  3. And when did this transition from a hobby to a 'thing?'
    The owner of Common Grounds here in town said that if we started a roastery, he would buy our coffee. We were like cool, there’s a bit of an opportunity. 

    We were both working there at the time, I was head barista at Common Grounds for a couple years. 

  4. Tell me about the record player.
    Before we had this place, we had a little to-go bar downtown in a greek food restaurant. But we were starting to gain a pretty big following, even with our podunk setup. 

    So we were doing it there and we put in a record player in that little place and people just loved it – they loved seeing vinyl turn. We’re all vinyl guys anyways, so we just consolidated all of our equipment. That equipment is JBs, it’s mine, it’s Chris’s. As far as the records it’s mostly 60s, 70s, 80s stuff. Literally besides what’s being played right now (the Decemberists).

    We do shows now once a month. This sounds really stupid but it’s not supposed to: they’re really, really exclusive shows. We advertise them the whole month. By the time the date rolls around, it’s a 100 person capacity, so it’s sold out two weeks before. 

    We had about a hundred pre-sold tickets and a hundred people show up for the last show.

  5. What's something that would surprise your customers?
    It’d probably surprise consumers to know how much time our staff, owners, and management have spent curating this experience. We meet often to evaluate what we’re doing well and poorly. 

    One great example is: we look at other coffee shops that we really love, we find their worst reviews and *don't* do that. 

    We also handmade the whole place: the bar, the chairs, the shelves, the ceiling – everything. We did have a contractor, but towards the end of it we were putting in a lot more sweat equity than our contractor was. 

    We put up this roof, we lacquered it, we put up a lot of the sheetrock, we did all the plumbing. 

Pets Plus: Lubbock's Local Business of the Week

Pets Plus: Lubbock's Local Business of the Week

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In the Beginning

Richard Evans started Pets Plus before the famous big box pet stores were located in every town. He wanted to offer a place that was more than warehouse to buy pet supplies but a place where you could interact with the animals of the store, bring your furry family members, and of course get the supplies you needed to give your pet a wonderful life.

Richard has provided this experience to Lubbock for nearly 35 years. A Lubbock native, he has owned and operated Pets Plus since 1983.

How Pets Plus Came to Be

Richard has always loved animals and the outdoors, when he was younger he even considered being in the forestry service or working at a zoo. It wasn’t until he took a job at a local pet store in Abilene during college, that he realized his true passion was to run a pet store.

Richard and his family love Lubbock. He says “Lubbock truly has all the benefits and conveniences of a big town, without all the headaches.” He has raised two girls here and loves being a part of the community. He’s proud that Pets Plus is a family owned business, his wife, Pam, helps with bookkeeping and his sister, Rachel, helps manage the store.

You're Invited — Please visit the store's Pets!

Bring your preschool groups! Bring your playdates, your grandparents, your scouts, or your date – it doesn’t matter. Enjoy watching ring-tailed lemurs, the albino burmese python “Fluffy,” or the tortoises (who stay at the store in the winter and Richard’s backyard during the warmer months). These animals enjoy the attention, and appreciate the love. Pets Plus isn’t a zoo, but it’s about as close as you can get.

Fluffy a little too exotic for you? Not to worry, there are puppies available to play with, and in case you are able to share your home and heart, they are available for adoption!   (Richard prides himself that all their puppies are from individual breeders, he does not use any out of state kennels or “puppy mills”.)

Pets Plus Deals on the towny App

We are so thrilled that Pets Plus and Richard are a part of the Towny Network.   They have the following deals available in the Towny app:

  • Buy One, Get One Free Engraved Dog Tags
  • Buy One Get One Free 1lb bag of dog biscuits
  • 50% off Deer Antler Chews

If you don’t have the app, download it today and go check out your very own local Lubbock Zoo Pet Store. The puppies (and Fluffy) are waiting to see you!

7 Ways To Ace Your Perfect Day In Waco (Number 5 Might Be Our Favorite)

7 Ways To Ace Your Perfect Day In Waco (Number 5 Might Be Our Favorite)

Waco's put the rest of Texas on notice as a center of creativity, local business and out of this world hospitality. Whether you're a dyed in the wool longtime local or are just getting to know this delightful city on the Brazos, here are a few tips to stringing together a day in Waco you'll never forget. 

  1. Caffeine With A Shot Of Culture. Societies have been built on the virtues of the brown bean, and we can see why: we're just not ourselves without Common Grounds waking us up in the morning. Camp out on some funky furniture and settle in to your morning brew. They're good for live entertainment often, too. 
  2. Your Sweet Tooth Leads To Smiles.  You don't have to be in the market for an elaborate special occasion cake to sweeten your morning (though they do that too): Simply Delicious Bakery will put a song in your step through your tastebuds, from cupcakes to kolaches to cookie confections. 
  3. Let's Go Treasure Hunting. Room after room after expansive room of inventive and historic finds lurk within the strolling confines of LaSalle Shoppes. Go ahead and ask about that thing you've always wanted to find, but never thought you'd actually uncover. They just might surprise you.
  4. Savor An Inventive Lunch. Namesake of one of history's great minds, Tesla's Cafe & Coffee Pub serves an inviting bite (breakfast to BBQ) and will soon be expanding to feature a beer garden patio in the back. Ask about the occasional off-menu dessert (trust us on that one).
  5. Take In An Afternoon Matinee. Pop by the historic multilevel Hippodrome Theatre and camp out for a noteworthy classic or a first-run can't miss flick. Or make your way to the second floor Bar & Lounge for a libation that hits the spot or an artisan snack.
  6. Get Cheesy.  Those tastebuds won't dance without inspiration, so soundtrack hem to something magical with specially crafted artisan cheeses from Brazos Valley Cheese. Gouda to Cheddar, Swiss to Brie, their carefully considered cheeses have been lauded at prestigious competitions all over North America.
  7. Quench Yourself. You have the right to sip a tall one from Bare Arms Brewing, Waco's hometown craft brewer. Come for the distinct and varied beer selection (from sours to saisons to java stouts), stay for the laid-back vibe and community mojo.

Find a favorite spot for your perfect Waco day? Tell us about it. And join the mailing list to never miss a great local find.