Thanksgiving-themed turkey sausage rolls may seem like an odd thing to sell in March. But it was completely appropriate on a recent day at Cambrian Coffee as the owners thanked the community for its swift support following an accident that caused extensive damage to the coffee shop.

Just weeks after owners Gemma Hildred and Brian Hinkle celebrated their third anniversary of opening for business in the Spring Branch Management District, disaster struck in the shocking form of a car that barreled through their front doors on March 1, ending a high-speed chase. The vehicle had been stolen.

Thankfully, no one was hurt at the shop and police immediately arrested the suspected thief. But the incident and the resulting damage left the business and the owners “gutted.”

“We have major damage to our bar and wall as well as damage to all tables, chairs and many pieces of equipment,” Hildred and Hinkle, who are married, posted on Facebook the day after the crash. ‘We are putting together a plan with our contractor and team to fix things properly and reopen responsibly.”

Less than three weeks later, Cambrian Coffee was able to open again. They hosted a grand reopening celebration on March 23.

“We wanted to get back to normal as soon as possible. We had employees to take care of and a community that relied on us to start their day. Luckily, we are surrounded by a great team, our distributors, vendors and a great general contractor. We had a lot of long days but we made it happen in record time,” Hinkle said.

Hinkle also attributed the quick recovery to a loyal customer base and helpful neighbors who supported them from the moment of the crash.

A customer even started a GoFundMe campaign that raised $19,428 to help the shop recover.

“Our amazing friends and neighbors here in Spring Branch supported us and kept our heads up while we rebuilt our shop. Their donations and messages of support got us through the tough first days and allowed us to start repairs immediately,” Hinkle said.

Cambrian Coffee combines the couple’s love of geology and fossil hunting with their love of coffee and baking, as well as Hildred’s Welsh heritage.

The Cambrian Period is the first geological part of the Paleozoic Era. It was named after Cambria, the Roman name for Wales.

The owners took the “opportunity” of the crash to make a few changes, with more to come, including a new mural for a wall that had been damaged, Hinkle said. But it was important to them to have people return to the same shop they left a couple of weeks back.

At the grand reopening, supporters lined up to get their favorite coffee order, scones or sausage rolls — and welcome the local business’ return.

Hildred, as per usual, was in the back making the food happen while Hinkle was out front at the cash register, taking orders and smiling from ear to ear as he greeted customer after customer from early in the morning to the afternoon.

Donning a cap advertising another popular local business — Feges BBQ — Hinkle seemed genuinely blown away by the support.

All day, he said, they had been alternating flavors of their sausage rolls, including a special collaboration with Feges BBQ’s pulled pork.

After lunch, all that was left were the Thanksgiving rolls — with flavors of seasoned ground turkey, cranberries, stuffing and gravy. The rolls were delicious and the symbolism was on point.

Before they reopened, the couple posted words of thanks to the community:

“We would like to take a moment to thank all of you for your support. For looking after us when we are down. For your kind words and messages. For showing up at our shop offering to grab a broom or donating to our GoFundMe. Friends and family in Spring Branch, in Houston, around the country and in the U.K. Thank you all. Like everything we do every day, we couldn’t do it without you.”

Cambrian Coffee
9461 Hammerly Blvd.
Houston, TX 77080

— Dorothy Puch Lillig