Longview residents George and Mercedes Kotchev are bringing a new location of their Uncle Joe's Coffee & Cones to the city's south side.
The coffee and ice cream shop opened in downtown Gilmer a little more than two years ago.
The couple is moving forward with renovations to a location at 711 Estes Drive, Suite 100, next door to Domino's in a shopping center near the Estes Parkway Walmart SuperCenter in Longview.
"The location over there, it's really perfect," George Kotchev said. "You have Tatum, Lakeport and the south side of Longview that they really don't have anywhere to get a cup of coffee. ... There's a lot of businesses there that — they just want to have somewhere to go have one hour of peace. It's a wonderful location for us."
They plan to adjust their hours to accommodate shift workers employed nearby at Eastman Chemical Co., for instance, opening early, possibly at 5 a.m., and staying open later, perhaps until 10 or 11 p.m. Those decisions haven't yet been finalized.
The location will have a drive-thru. The Kotchevs hope to open before July Fourth.
George previously worked at Eastman, and is wife was a barista at a variety of coffee shops before they opened their business.
"We have a lot of our customers from Gilmer; a lot of the Gilmer community, they come to Longview," George said. "They honestly kind of hated that we're not there. The feedback that we're hearing is that once they try our coffee, everything else, it's not as good as ours. They've really gotten used to how we make our coffee."
George said he grew up in Europe.
"When you grow up in Europe, you're kind of bred with coffee," he said. "We had a lot of insight — what do we want our coffee to look like. ... We use a style that would work best with our recipes. We really researched what would taste the best."
The business started off with just coffee — hot drinks, frappes, cold beverages. They also serve bobo tea. Then, they "stumbled" across a Texas small business that makes an "amazing" Mexican-style ice cream, George said. They started selling it in their store in January.
"We've had ice cream from all over the world," and this is truly the best, he said.
Their business name plays off the word "cup of Joe" and serves as a joke about the small town atmosphere where their business started.
"It's a small town, so everybody has an Uncle Joe," Mercedes said.
"That could work in Longview, too," George said.
They've been welcomed by the Gilmer community, the couple said, and they've fallen in love with the town.
"Our customers aren't customers anymore. They're family," Mercedes said, adding that they feel the same way about their employees.
Plans have been announced for a possible Starbucks that would be just a few blocks away from them on Estes Parkway. Though, the couple said they aren't worried.
We know we’re better than them because our customers tell us," George said. "We're not corporate. We’re a really small family-oriented environment."