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Local Business Brings More Than Pizza to the Table


Story by Dan Oko

Owen Moore felt there was something special about Lauryn Erfurt the first time he laid eyes on her. They were both in college, working at a then-new Texas Roadhouse in San Marcos. Lauryn and Owen worked side by side managing different parts of the restaurant. Moore always made her laugh, and after a couple of years working together, the pair eventually dated and later married. After a stint doing real estate in Austin, the Moores (pictured right), both 35, now run their very own restaurant. The Dough Joe is a coffeehouse and pizzeria in downtown Bandera, Lauryn’s hometown.

The restaurant, which the Moores call a “coffeezeria” (combining coffee and pizzeria), opened last year in a former gas station that was once the meat market on Main Street. With design help from Lauryn’s sister, they transformed the former garage bays into a swank, comfortable restaurant with a high-capacity oven for baking pizzas, and a split dining room with space for private parties. With 17 employees, they serve espresso drinks and offer specialty breakfast pizzas stacked with eggs and pan sausage, lunch specials and salads, beer, and wine.

“We asked ourselves what could get us back here, and what we could bring to the community that was missing,” explains Lauryn. “We did a ton of research, and we feel very lucky we were so well received. Our product was true and correct.”

With clean lines, bright colors, exposed brick and custom metalwork—including bars and tables courtesy of Lauryn's father Artie, who owns the local Quality Ironworks—the space is an inviting place to hang out. “We wanted something new and fresh,” says Owen. While the pizza draws high marks on Yelp and other social media sites, the Dough Joe serves local beers from Bandera Ale Project and Boerne Brewery on draft. The Moores plan to provide a stage for Bandera musicians.

Although the restaurant business is disrupted across Texas due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Moores remain optimistic about their prospects. One of the keys to their success has been offering a gathering place for students and remote workers. Patrons can take advantage of high-speed internet at the Dough Joe, which suits the businesses’ and customers’ needs better than other providers.

“When we switched to BEC Fiber, it was night and day,” says Lauryn. The internet and phone service allows the restaurant to run a point-of-sale system that sends orders directly to the kitchen, collects online orders from their website, and takes call-in orders.

Owen adds that in these uncertain times, the restaurant managed a worthwhile pivot to serve as a part-time grocery store, selling items like flour, eggs, milk and even toilet paper to their residential neighbors, some of whom had trouble finding household staples earlier this year. “We had to shut down indoor dining temporarily,  but managed a steady to-go business including groceries,” says Owen. “We are really proud of that. We had access to food for a month or two when others didn’t, it was very important to us, being community-oriented.”

Even so, working 15-hour days six days a week for most of the past year—the Dough Joe is closed Tuesdays—the Moores hope that will change. The couple has enjoyed a richness of opportunity since their return to Bandera, raising their son Cameron, who was just 3 months old when they began their journey. “When he was born, we wanted to be closer to my family,” explains Lauryn, who says living near her parents and sister was an important part of their business calculus.

“We say the Dough Joe is Cameron's first sibling,” she adds with a laugh.

Having just hired a new kitchen manager, and recently promoted a service manager, the husband and wife restaurateurs are now focused on growing their business, building their community connections and sorting out the road ahead. “This was a real stepping stone,” says Owen, who grew up north of Houston. “It offered us a real chance to work together for ourselves and grow this community."

Lauryn admits that before she and Owen found their path in business and romance, she imagined a return to Bandera was unlikely. These days she looks to her parents for more than childcare; their ironworks company, in fact, provides her a much-desired model for the future as they grow the Dough Joe and—more than likely—their family. “My parents owned their own business, and they did well enough to put us through school and enjoy family vacations, so we hope to be able to do the same."

“It's been a lot of hard work, but we are glad we persevered and hope to look back at these times with a smile," says Lauryn. In the meantime, travelers and Bandera residents alike have a new place to hang out, access free high-speed internet, and grab a quality coffee drink, great pizza and even a beer.

Posted: 9/1/2020 11:48:27 AM
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