A family dream: Pop Top Coffee Shop

Submitted photo.
Pop Top Coffee Shop founder, Mandie Tartaglia, and her nine-month old daughter run the coffee shop during the week.

ENNIS — An Ennis family is fulfilling their dream in an adventure, fit to be a romance movie script, that began six years ago before the couple crossed paths.

The story behind the Tartaglia family, known as "The Tarts," and Pop Top Coffee Shop located at 110 N. Dallas St. in Ennis dates back to 2009.

Dominic Tartaglia purchased a bright green 1978 Volkswagen Pop Top Camper Bus in his home state of New Jersey before setting off on an epic adventure across the United States.

He explored the country in the bus, driving historic Route 66 and ending in Los Angeles, California where he met his future wife, Mandie.

The couple quickly fell in love and became engaged in August 2012 followed by their wedding in May 2013.

Dominic and Mandie moved to Texas in June 2013 and now call Ennis their home.

The newlyweds "were drawn to the small town feel and were especially in love with the Historic Downtown buildings," Mandie recalls.

They strolled around town looking for a local coffee shop to hang out in. Mandie said they were "bummed" to see the lack of options.

After Mandie spent many years tinkering with coffee recipes at home, the Tarts decided to open a coffee stand at the Ennis Farmers' Market in April 2014.

It wasn't just any coffee stand. The coffee couple with the green bus decided to call their little coffee operation Pop Top Coffee Shop after the pop-up bed that made the camper so distinctive. Their old VW Pop Top Camper Bus became a highlight of their stand at the farmers' market.

"The bus was very special," Mandie said.

Pop Top became a huge hit. Mandie said the second-most common question the couple was asked was, "where is your storefront?"

"While we wished we could turn our little stand into a real coffeehouse, we knew such a dream was far out of reach," Mandie said.

Seven-months pregnant, of course the most common question was, "when are you due?"

In June 2014, Mandie gave birth to a seven pound seven ounce bundle of joy her and her husband named Golde.

An opportunity opened itself for the Tarts after the farmers' market closed in October.

Linda Calvert of Bohemian Railway Antiques approached the family with an offer to share her space at the Ennis National Bank Event Center.

"Beginning in November, Pop Top opened to the public a few days a week. Just like at the market, our customer base continued to expand," Mandie said.

As Golde grew older, now nine-months old, the Tarts began expanding their hours and their shop.

In March 2015, Dominic and Mandie made the commitment to make their space at 110 N. Dallas St. in the Ennis National Bank Event Center their permanent location. At the same time, Bohemian Railway Antiques moved to NW Main St where they expanded into an antique mall.

Pop Top is now open five days a week from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday in addition to 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday.

Their menu has grown a great deal from the two drinks originally offered at the farmers' market. They serve classic espresso-based beverages such as lattes and cappuccinos; loose leaf tea and tea drinks such as chai lattes; coffee-free beverages such as hot cocoa and cream sodas; locally baked goods such as flaky turnovers and tropical swirl bread; and last but certainly not least, the ever-popular ice blended premiums.

Mandie said, "These coffee-based icy drinks are what made Pop Top famous!"

Instead of using powders to make frappe-style drinks, Mandie uses milk, coffee and sugar to create a base that is blended with ice and add-ins such as marshmallows and graham crackers. Additionally Pop Top features a new, limited edition premium each month.

Pop Top hopes to continue to grow and be a part of the downtown revitalization.

Mandie said the couple loves all things local, including their supplier who provides locally roasted Buna Bean Coffee, and hopes they can do their part to contribute to a beautiful, thriving downtown.

They recently added comfortable couches and are working with the building owner to add a reading room, which will be a separate quiet space to read or study.

Mandie said they "want to continue to be the place for local coffee that is made with more care and at a higher quality than chain coffee."

Dominic Tartaglia purchased the bright green 1978 Volkswagen bus in 2009 when he set off for a cross-country adventure that resulted in meeting his wife, Mandie.Submitted photo.

Dominic Tartaglia purchased the bright green 1978 Volkswagen bus in 2009 when he set off for a cross-country adventure that resulted in meeting his wife, Mandie.

Mandie and Golde run the shop during the week while Dominic heads off to his full-time job as the parish financial controller at St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church in Ennis.

"Although Golde isn't much help when it comes to serving beverages, she is a great morale booster," Mandie said.

Dominic assists Mandie in the mornings to serve the morning rush before heading to work and he spends his lunch at the shop.

To the Tarts, coffee is more than a cup of "morning fuel."

"It can be, if done properly, an excellently crafted cup that is not only made carefully and artistically but is never handed to you by a stranger," Mandie said. "Pop Top believes part of helping our community grow is getting to know each customer and establishing an even friendlier atmosphere in downtown Ennis."

For more information about Pop Top Coffee Shop, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/poptopcoffeeshop/.