Before UTSA Blvd had sidewalks, and before there was a football team or food trucks, UTSA had one, little strip center and a gas station that served its 30,000 students. In the strip center was a club, a hookah bar and a bookstore. Classic combo. As a freshman in college, I remember telling my mom,

“Whoever opens a coffee shop here will not fail. There is no way to fail. There aren’t any coffee shops close enough for a student to walk, and every major university has a coffee shop!”

To me at the time, it was a clear and wise investment that someone was going to be lucky enough to plunge. Then, as a classic CAP student, I transferred to the University of Texas where coffeehouses have no end and all trends begin. I grew so much that year around coffee tables with friends—but I missed UTSA. There was some sort of place in my heart for UTSA that I felt called to, so I went back.

Upon returning, the need for a coffeehouse became more and more apparent. We need a place to gather. The most significant times in our lives involve gathering people together around a table—it’s the fellowship, the idea swapping, the sharing of life. It’s where people laugh, feel loved, get inspired and collaborate. I, then, began to work for a student organization on campus upon graduating and noticed the need for a gathering place all the more. As a student organization, we would meet in classrooms, and, in reality, classrooms are not the most inviting places.

My heart grew more and more for the vision of a coffeehouse that served as a gathering place for students and ministries. It grew so much, I felt like I needed to take a step of faith and tell a few people about the idea. Ironically, the same week that I got the courage to tell a few people my hope for a coffeehouse that serves UTSA, my husband, Marcus, came home with coffee from a new, hip food truck in town. After we laughed and celebrated the fact that San Antonio finally had a food truck (our joke is that San Antonio is always 10 years behind Austin in terms of trends), Marcus said, “But I have interesting news… They told me they are opening a coffee shop right across from campus under the new student living apartments being built.” I was so discouraged at that for some reason. I had just worked up the courage to tell people of this hope for having a coffeehouse that serves UTSA and how there is not already a coffeehouse that serves these students, and here one was coming! I was just thrown off—this vision had been growing in my heart for years.

Until! That night I had a dream about the coffeehouse—it was done, completed! We had taken an old, condemned home and had it moved and renovated by campus. We were doing a final walkthrough before we opened, and, as we walked through, each room had its own seating vibe. The first room had desks for studying; the next had couches for lounging. The coffeehouse had two stories, and in my dream we went upstairs and to the left, all there was, was one, long room. And all that was in the room was one long and wide table!

In my dream I heard the Lord say,

I couldn’t believe it.

Next in my dream, we walked downstairs and to the left was the counter where you would order coffee. But it was weird! Even though we weren’t open, there were people behind the counter, selling their own coffee. I did not know who they were and felt confused as to why they were selling their own coffee behind our counter—and we weren’t even open! And in my dream I heard, “It is ok that they are here. They are selling coffee. The vision I gave you have is for a gathering place in my name.” I woke up, punched Marcus, and said, “It is ok that the coffeeshop is coming! They are selling great coffee, but this is a different vision, a vision for a gathering place (even though we want to sell great coffee!). And the name of the coffeehouse is The Banquet Table!” The dream settled the name and stilled fears. And now, that yummy food truck is now a storefront across from UTSA called Indy Coffee, and we love it. They are super hip and have incredible coffee.

Since the dream, the mission of The Banquet Table has clarified. We are about {Gathering Around the City}. We are a mission before we are a place. But soon, The Banquet Table Coffeehouse will be a gathering place where our mission can multiply as it serves as a free venue for students and non-profits to gather their few. It’s a place where a few will change the lives of many.

Carmel Gabriel, Founder