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Odessa gets new coffee shop

Cpl. Ray’s, a tribute to fallen soldier, makes first expansion

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Posted: Saturday, April 18, 2015 5:30 am

The Ray’s Coffee should operate much like the Andrews shop that has become a destination for veterans living in or visiting the area, said Jerry Bevel, Ray Bevel’s father who founded the shop with his wife, Lonna Bevel.

The new Odessa shop will be at 311 Faudree Road, Suite A, a five-unit strip in a quickly growing area of town that was developed by Larry Lee of Leeco. The shop will sit beside a Domino’s Pizza that recently opened.

“This store is going to be more like a store that you see in Seattle and New York City,” Jerry Bevel said. “You can come in, sit down and we can make you a very high-end cup of coffee.”

City building permit records show a finish-out permit estimated at $75,000 that began in March. The Bevels say they have already begun hiring what will eventually be 12 or 15 employees for the new shop,which is nearly 1,500 square feet.

Ray Bevel died on April 21, 2007 in Operation Iraqi Freedom, after an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit during a combat patrol in Yusifiyah, just south of Baghdad.

Andrews residents lined the streets for the slain 22-year-old’s homecoming. In the months that followed, Ray Bevel’s grieving family decided they wanted to create some sort of tribute in the form of a business.

Initially, Lonna Bevel, an avid coffee drinker, wanted to dedicate a Starbucks to her stepson, Jerry Bevel said. But the chain declined to open a store in pre-boom Andrews.

So the Bevels opened their own in the final days of 2007: Cpl. Ray’s Coffee, at 801 N. Main St., in Andrews. The shop became a greater success than they believed it could, they said.

“For the last seven years people in Odessa and Midland that came up to the coffee shop in Andrews have always asked us and stayed on us about opening one in Odessa and Midland,” Jerry Bevel said. “The first four or five years I didn’t have any desire to do it, because mentally I wasn’t ready to do it. It’s named after my son who was killed in Iraq, and I just didn’t know if that’s what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to take anything away from that.”

But he was also moved by the impact on veterans visiting the store, who shared their stories with him. The new store, he says, has to offer a similar tribute, with decorations on the walls honoring veterans and another mural for Cpl. Ray.

The corporal’s sister, Keisha Arnold, will run the store. The 21-year-old Odessa College graduate said “consistency is key, so if you go to Andrews you get the same experience.”

They expect, for example, that the Ray Ray’s Mocha will again be among the more popular drinks and food offerings like Danishes and biscuits will remain.

But Arnold, who said it is her goal to run the business once her parents retire and possibly keep expanding, also plans to offer some new fare for customers. They are considering cheesecake, and events like art parties and open mic events.

The shop will have a drive-thru, like the Andrews location does, but Arnold said she is going to make a greater push to encourage people to drink their coffee inside and stay for a visit.

 “Faudree is pretty busy,” Arnold said. “It’s a cool place for high schoolers or college-age students or whoever really to come hang out or study or whatever they want to do: Just like Starbucks, but better.”

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