Wake the Dead Coffee House vibe appeals to wide audience

Lifestyle Reporter
Barista Tammy Bingham makes a cappuccino March 9 at Wake The Dead Coffee House.

Wake the Dead Coffee House provides more than coffee to the community.

Julie Balkman, current owner and founder of Wake the Dead, said what started out as an idea has since developed into one of the most popular and sought-out coffee shops in the San Marcos area. She said opening the shop was a slow and daunting undertaking.

“Blood, sweat and tears were definitely involved with the initial creation, remodeling and landscaping, but everything worked out in the end,” Balkman said.

The city’s rules and regulations were difficult and expensive to maneuver when opening the store.

“The process of creating Wake the Dead, as a reality, was difficult,” Balkman said. “It took about a year just to get through to the city.”

Balkman said she has worked in the coffee business for 16 years and was influenced by everything she experienced.

“What really gave me the idea for Wake the Dead varies pretty widely,” Balkman said. “I found inspiration in warm grandparent homes for the relaxed and homey feel but also things like haunted houses, foliage, circuses and skulls and zombies regarding the style of the shop.”

Balkman describes the coffee shop as a “funky Tim Burton-esque house.”

The coffeehouse officially opened in May 2008, and business has been consistently strong, said Balkman.

Ryan Dowling, San Marcos resident, said the atmosphere Wake the Dead provides sets it apart from other coffee houses around town.

“Wake the Dead is, in my opinion, way more friendly and welcoming than most other coffee shops,” Dowling said. “The employees are so personable and down-to-earth, which makes for a really great environment.”

Chris Truan, employee, said the shop serves a variety of customers.

“Having been an employee for quite some time, I’ve noticed that what really helps us stand out is that we don’t pigeonhole ourselves,” Truan said. “In other words, we make it a priority to not specifically cater to any one crowd. We try to be welcoming to any and everyone that visits.”

The shop is also known for providing entertainment, Truan said.

“Julie (Balkman) tries to bring in and display local artists’ pictures and local bands to help showcase the creativity and art within San Marcos,” Truan said.

Truan said Wake the Dead undoubtedly provides a unique experience with its food, coffee, beer, welcoming environment and place for local artists to perform.

“It’s called a coffeehouse for a reason,” Truan said. “It’s really meant to feel like a home, so we try our best to uphold what our name implies.”