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City rights wrong, gives Mahncke Park coffee shop green light to open

Commonwealth Coffee to open in January after getting zoning allowance

SAN ANTONIO – Like the other homes on the Mahncke Park street, the property at 118 Davis Court has been zoned residential for years.

Despite this fact, when the owners purchased the property in February with the intention of opening up a coffee shop, it was listed as commercial.

"The fire marshal came through. All the permits, all the certificates of occupancy as you know, all, I think, 12 or 14. We went through all those hoops," said Commonwealth Coffee Shop co-owner Jose Campos.

By mid-summer, the shop owners had spent half a million dollars purchasing the property, gutting the building, remodeling, even installing high-dollar kitchen equipment.

Manager-to-be Ethel Kruse was already on payroll when she got the news about the city's zoning error.

"We hired our employees and then we had to let them go," Kruse said.

After District 2 Councilman Keith Toney voted against the coffee shop, KSAT-12 confronted Toney, who said he would continue looking into the zoning issue.

"We wouldn't be here if it weren't for you, honestly, or for that KSAT-12 coverage. After that, he (Toney) then contacted us," Campos said.

In an effort to strike a compromise, the coffee shop owners agreed to some restrictions with regard to operating hours, closing by 6 p.m. every day and all day on Sunday.     

"We wanted the support from our neighbors, basically; that was the biggest thing that we wanted," Kruse said.

They now have that support from neighbors, who may soon become customers.    

They also got the support they needed from City Council Thurday, with a unanimous vote in favor of a special zoning allowance.

"We'll be open soon in January. We're bringing a baker from France, a boulanger, and we'd love to see everyone there," said Campos.

The Mahncke Park HOA board president, Daniel Lazarine, said, "Through tremendous efforts of the coffee shop owners and their willingness to address the concerns of the neighbors, I feel that a lasting compromise has been achieved. It is my hope that the coffee shop will become a great neighbor and a great asset to the residents of Mahncke Park."