Slowpokes
8141 Long Point Road

Houston’s local, quirky coffee and wine bar, Slowpokes, with locations in the Garden Oaks and Upper Kirby neighborhoods, is opening up shop in the future Spring Branch Village shopping center. This center is being redeveloped by Braun Enterprises, and expects to be full of exciting tenants by the end of 2019.

Slowpokes baristas will fill your cup with the choice liquid you need at the moment, either in the form of a caffeinated pick-me-up, or a happy hour special. Whether you come in with friends, colleagues, or grab a caramel macchiato to go, you won’t be alone when you walk into Slowpokes. Aside from the pleasant coffee house regulars, who, as barista Mikala says are “free to stay for 5 minutes or 5 hours,” you’ll find the iconic company of Mash the Turtle, Tasker the Snail, and Patches the Sloth. These Slowpokes mascots welcome guests from their canvases, painted with contented expressions that say, “Sit down and stay a while.” Impress a Slowpokes employee when you visit, by pointing out insider knowledge that Mash is the mascot for Slowpokes beer, Tasker is assigned to wine, and Patches, who needs it the most, represents their coffee.

Sitting at a Slowpokes bar between 4-7pm on weekdays provides thirsty patrons an oasis of drinks, and specials. The barista pulls the handles on the draft tap, filling your $4 glass with hoppy flows from Houston’s classic breweries: Karbach, Saint Arnold, 8th Wonder, or Buffalo Bayou. White and red wine bottles perched behind the bar can slowly be emptied for $5 a glass. The bar is framed with a backdrop of an eclectic collection of figurines, sloth paraphernalia, and an all-too-relatable electric neon sign reading: “I’m a slowpoke.”

Along with a drink, make sure to order a “Donut Grilled Cheese,” (yes, it’s what it sounds like), the “Churro Donut,” with apple butter, or the “Let it Brie” flatbread (with gluten or not), containing pear, brie, mozzarella and crunchy arugula. Slowpokes’ seasonal S’mores Campfire Latte was a big hit during the fall, as it overflowed with chocolate and marshmallows.

But why the emphasis on “slow”? It’s not for a lack of caffeine. The owners of Slowpokes, Juan Carlos Rubiralta, and Mazen Baltagi, envisioned a coffee shop where customers can slow down in the midst of busy, fast-paced schedules. “You don’t need to be rushed all the time. You don’t need to be in a complete hurry. You can take the time to sit down, to relax, to enjoy that cup of coffee, or enjoy a beer, or glass of wine, and hang out with your neighbors and friends,” explains the mellow voice narrating the Slowpokes video on their website, slowpokeshtx.com.

The exciting new Slowpokes location in Spring Branch anticipates a spacious facility and a good-sized outdoor patio in the back. A new feature will be a rentable closed-off office area complete with a projector for meetings or parties. Slowpokes will no doubt maintain the same relaxed vibe and eclectic quality that they have established in the other two locations, while also reflecting the unique character of the Spring Branch neighborhood. Personally, I’m hoping for a revival of “goat yoga,” an adorable exercise that the Garden Oaks location once offered, or game and movie nights. “There is something here for everyone,” says Mikala, referring to Wednesday chess nights, kids’ activities, and other social opportunities.

So, look out later this year for the opening of Spring Branch’s new caffeinated, Houston-born hotspot. If you’re “Busy Doing Nothing” as a small sign reads behind the bar, or, I suppose, busy doing something, you’re bound to find a place and a mug of something good at Slowpokes.