Ryan Bros. Coffee
1894 Main St.
San Diego, CA 92113
By Judi Curry
It is so seldom that my daughters and I get together just to enjoy ourselves. Today was an exceptional day for us. Unfortunately, my middle daughter, Lynn, lives near Anaheim and her plan to catch an Amtrak to join us fell through when the tracks were closed for maintenance. We missed her and hope she will join Michele, Stephanie and me at some other time.
The day started at 10:45am, when we met at my house. Michele drives a snazzy convertible, and since it was such a beautiful day, she didn’t need much convincing to put the top down and drive.
Our first stop was at Las Cuatro Milpas, and even though I had been there earlier in the week, I enjoyed my tamale and chorizo. Michele had an order of taquitos, and ordered 2 dozen tortillas to take home. Those were delicious, also. Stephanie ordered two tacos to eat there; corn tortillas to take home along with tacos for dinner tonight. We could not find fault with any part of our meal.
Our goal had also been to visit the Public Market and we were disappointed to find out that it was only open on Wednesday and Sunday. Maybe when Lynn comes down that will be our destination for her trip.
But our secondary goal was to visit Ryan Bros Coffee. I had attended a meeting there two weeks ago and was curious to go back again. I must say that the room that we met in was offered to us free of charge, and if you don’t mind a little noise – high ceilings – and a little warmth – it was a good meeting place.
When I asked Stephanie if she wanted to go with me she was reluctant to do so. She knows the Ryan Brothers – Harry, Tom, and Carmine – on a more personal level and was afraid that if I was unhappy with the restaurant I would give them a bad review. Not to worry. This is not a bad review.
In fact, it is a “glowing” review and has nothing to do with Stephanie’s friendship. (I should say that Stephanie knows the brothers because she volunteers for several organizations and Ryan Bros. donate a lot of coffee to the organizations she works with.) And Colin – the wrestler – went to pre-school with one of the Ryan Brothers children.
Ryan Bros. is located in the old “Chewy’s” building on Main St. It was built in the early 1930’s, and although they have remodeled it somewhat, it still has the charm it had when it was Chewy’s. High rafters is why the building is so warm, and they are working on ways to cool it down on hot days. They roast their own coffee in the back of the building, and this probably adds to the heat of the building. But the smells are delightful. And it isn’t so warm that it is uncomfortable.
When they purchased the building about 10 years ago, Barrio Logan was a “blighted” area and obtaining a loan was much easier than it is now. Still, it has not been an easy road, and people looked at these 3 “crazy” Irish lads with amusement for the Barrio was not the place people thought would be a success. Boy, were they wrong!
The Ryan family started out with a coffee cart in 1994. They started out selling just coffee, and later branched out to selling hot chocolate and tea. Eventually they decided to move into their own building and through trial and error learned how to roast their own coffees and teas. Besides the three brothers, father Tom and mother Hellena also work at the restaurant.
It is interesting to note that they have 3 stands; two places at the airport (outside of the security area);and one at Balboa Hospital. Besides the store in Barrio Logan, they have one in Temecula and one in San Marcos. The Ryan family run all of their stores; none are franchised.
Since we had just had a meal at Las Cuatro Milpas, we did not choose to eat anything there, but I did have a sandwich two weeks ago that was big and enticing. Michele ordered a Mocha, which tasted richly of chocolate. The medium size was $4.05. Stephanie ordered a Chai Frappe, which was delicious. She asked for it with low-fat milk and it was still creamy and rich. The cost was $4.25. I ordered a Frozen Caramel Drop for $4.45 and I was ready to go back and order a second one because it was delicious. In addition to that order, Stephanie ordered two smoothies to take home to her children for dinner. (Yum! Las Cuatro Milpas taco’s and Ryan Brother smoothies!)
Ryan Bros. is a plus on my list. It is a good place to meet; there are many “happy vibes” emanating throughout the store. We spent about 30 minutes talking to Harry and he told us about the beginnings of their endeavor, and spent another 15 minutes talking to Tom about their serving beer and wine during the day; their hopes to someday offer live music; and to have art shows on a regularly scheduled basis later on. Harry told us that the reason Ryan Bros. is a success is because they really love the taste of coffee, and they want others to enjoy it too. They have never roasted a “bitter” coffee; and they make their coffee with love.
Harry said that at Ryan Bros. it is a good place for “healing to occur.” He’s right. The 3 of us will return soon.