The celebrating skeleton statue, designed by Kevin Huffakers, greets guests in the Wake the Dead courtyard. Photo by David G. Prewitt
Above, coffee art by Dana Dacy. Top right, the cozy interior of Wake the Dead. Bottom right, a turkey and swiss sandwich, piled high. Submitted photos
Wake the Dead to celebrate milestone anniversary on Sunday
Anyone who has ever visited Wake the Dead Coffee House instantly remembers the Tim Burton-esque skeleton statue rising triumphantly from an urn with a cup of coffee. The iron statue, designed by Kevin Huffaker and his brother, Zach Volnor, who added the soft-hued, mellow lights, sits at the heart of Wake the Dead courtyard.
The coffee house’s bold black-and-red exterior beckons to passersby from its location on the corner of Ranch Road 12 and Coers Drive, but it’s the cozy, petfriendly courtyard and the quirky, comfy interior that makes people want to stay.
For 13 years, Wake the Dead has been a regular haven for local artists, students, families and friends, serving up coffee, food, beer, wine and community spirit.
Owner Julie Balkman originally envisioned the neighborhood coffee house as a place where people could come together to share ideas over good, strong coffee and delicious food.
“A community space for all ages and diversities, families, students… all walks of life,” Balkman said. “A place where artists, musicians, or people who want to share their ideas can do so.”
Over the years, Balkman’s vision has become reality as regulars from all over the San Marcos area have made Wake the Dead their chosen spot for collaboration, creativity, culture and camaraderie. It has served as a hub for live music, comedy shows, gallery space for artists, a viewing room for filmmakers, a site for book signings and a meeting area for clubs. Additionally, vendors sell soaps, books, jewelry and baked goods as well. Once a month, Wake the Dead expands its selection with its Abracadaver Market, which features items from a variety of vendors from around the state.
“Wake the Dead is my second home and I'm fortunate to work with a great team that allows me to continue my journey exploring coffee,” said Mich D., one of the Wake the Dead baristas. “For the larger San Marcos community, we continue to be one of the most popular spots, and even tourists stop by because of our glowing reviews. All of us here really put as much as we can into Wake and we encourage anyone else interested in seeing what we're about to come by sometime in the future."
Barista Christina Y. Orta also expressed dedication and gratitude for the coffee house. "Wake the Dead has meant so much to me for the last 13 years,” she said. “It is a place to meet people in the community who appreciate great coffee, music, art, poetry, movies and making connections with others in our town. It's given me so much happiness and support in so many ways. San Marcos is a town with a lot of heart and soul and Wake the Dead is one of the places in town that make it so special."
Though the pandemic presented Balkman and crew with the same challenges faced by many local restaurants and businesses, Wake the Dead weathered them with grace in part because of its accessible open-air spaces and its dedicated staff.
“Wake the Dead survived 2020 thanks to the baristas who offered to continue to work, while working in a completely different setting with new processes, all while wearing a mask six to eight hours per shift,” Balkman said. “Support from our faithful following of customers kept the business flowing, while some regulars went above and beyond to help the staff and shop survive. We are all so grateful and wouldn’t have made it to our 13th birthday without the support.”
This weekend, Wake the Dead will commemorate its Lucky 13 with an allday celebration featuring games with prizes, a special photo booth, live music and giveaways. New Wake the Dead stickers and a newly-designed 13-year anniversary T-shirt will be available for purchase. The evening will include a screening of local filmmaker Jeffrey Garcia’s independent, award-winning short film, “Henrietta and Her Dismal Display of Affection.”
From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Wake the Dead will feature live music by Dog Sled Riot, Charm, Tetsuo, Typical Girls and Yep! Additionally, Middleton Brewery is teaming up to provide a special keg, and special guest @gradys_ available_flash will be on hand.
While the interior of Wake the Dead is not yet open, Balkman anticipates a reopening within the next month or so, after remodeling and repairs have been completed.
Wake the Dead is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and the anniversary event is rain or shine. For more information, check out the Wake the Dead Facebook Page at facebook.com/ wakethedeadcoffeehouse.
“San Marcos is a town with a lot of heart and soul and Wake the Dead is one of the places in town that makes it so special.”
– Christina Y. Orta
Wake the Dead
Sunday May 30
Live Music from 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.
See facebook.com/wakethedeadcoffeehouse for information