It isn’t the coffee although it’s really good coffee made fresh all morning. It isn’t the food even though you can’t beat the breakfast and the special order options that come with it. Even so, sometime between 6 and 8 am an amazing group of guys meets at the MiniMart in Port O Connor. Sometimes they are there a good little while too. They come for the animated repartee, the discussion, the chitchat. They drink coffee and lots of it, some eat breakfast; but they all come to talk. 16 or so individual mugs rest in a rack on the wall and provide a quick roll call of who’s in and who’s out on any given morning. The coffee klatch is a diverse assortment of retired professionals and business owners, hard workers with a valued day off, avid fishermen both professional and amateur, homegrown and transplanted locals, weekenders and snowbirds, the occasional stranger who happens in, and sometimes a woman or two; but they all enjoy the chatter. The most common topic of discussion is politics, both local and national, but they also catch up on current events, local happenings, news of the odd or unknown, jokes, family updates and good old fashioned gossip.
Cookie oversees the kitchen and makes sure the eggs are hot and cooked to the regulars liking. Ms. Josie commands the seating area, coffee pot and has on occasion provided enforcer services. One guy continued to break the unwritten rules that language remain G rated and discussions are family friendly, and his cup is no longer on the rack. After many reminders, he was kindly but emphatically kicked out and directed not to return. Ms. Josie may be small, but her word is rule. Cookie claims she is not to be messed with and what she says goes, even with all their kids and grandkids. Cookie and Josie, founders of Josie’s Restaurant, have been in business more than 30 years. They have seen lots of changes. They started in a ‘taco truck,’ raised their kids and cooked good food, and now the two of them work only the breakfast shift. Their girls run the rest of the family endeavors, and Cookie and Josie are very proud of their accomplishments. You may find a quick note on the door on that odd morning that they closed early or took an extra day off, but generally you will find them there early working hard to make the coffee klatch and any other breakfast patrons feel at home and well fed. The local guys who gather there will tell you there’s no better place. They recommend the homemade salsa, diced jalapeños, pancakes or eggs; and they willingly share with you the very best in homespun tall tales, down to earth advice, straightforward discussion and the best fishing tips to be found anywhere around.
It’s their place, with unofficially assigned seating, individual coffee cups and a pecking order for who talks first and who talks loudest. Still, they will always make room at the table and offer a warm welcome if a newbie or a guest should drop in. Some have come for years of mornings, and some have come for days. Not all of them make it every day, and some members of their group have died, but those who remain are a fascinating, eclectic and hilarious group of legend, fable and fact that will spice up your breakfast taco and challenge your brain should you choose to drop by. Ms. Josie will offer you a guest coffee cup with a smile that lights up your day. Cookie will ask you if you want chorizo or bacon and make sure you are well fed. The small town group with the big ideas that make this hub their headquarters will guarantee that you leave with new jokes, crazy stories and factual and well thought out information you never dreamed of finding in a little town at the end of the road. They’re just one more of the many things that make our Port O Connor so special.