Coffee shops around Denton may have seen a visible decline in customers since the grand opening of Cryptozoology, the new coffee shop on Bell Avenue. It shares a large space in the taproom with Armadillo Ale Works, the brewery about to have its soft opening.
Only the coffee is available now, and the space is open from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. With the grand opening of the brewery, the space will still be closed for coffee but open for beer from 2 p.m. on to the late hours of the coming summer nights.
One of the owners of Cryptozoology Benjamin Lytle, 24, said the blending of the coffee shop with a brewery “makes for a much more cohesive customer experience.”
“We structured everything under the same roof so rather than operating as two separate entities in the same space, we work as a team with specialization in coffee and beer,” Lytle said. “It … leaves room for a lot of collaboration between Cryptozoology and Armadillo.”
The union came about when Benjamin and his wife and business partner, Haley Lytle, were looking for a place to start Cryptozoology. They figured they would have to start as a small pop-up shop before working their way up to a permanent location over time.
“We emailed Armadillo to see if we could do a pop-up at the brewery, and they were really receptive and interested,” Benjamin said. “Over time, we hit it off with them and decided to partner together to permanently do coffee and beer in the taproom.”
Armadillo Ale Works has eight years of local history under its belt, nine beers in its portfolio and two medals from the Great American Beer Festival — all without a brewing facility of their own, so this brick and mortar establishment will be a big step up for them.
Their beers have been available in Denton, the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and occasionally Austin and Houston. The Deep Ellum Brewing Company has been helping them brew their beers since 2012.
The brewery is run by a crew of four men: Yianni Arestis (co-founder and CEO), Bobby Mullins (co-founder and chief brewing officer), Will Sikora (customer service liason) and Collin Lewis (creative director).
They said they all share a passion for brewing good beer and sharing it with the community.
Competition in the area
With the fusion of these two businesses, Cryptozoology and Armadillo Ale Works are certain their pairing is a unique experience.
“Our vision is different in that we have seasoned professionals in both coffee and beer bringing their specific visions to life,” Benjamin said. “Because of the specialization, both areas are able to receive the needed attention and expertise to make for an excellent experience.”
So far, Benjamin is right. The coffee he and Haley make at Cryptozoology is stellar, and customers can testify.
“I’ve been here every day for the past two weeks,” customer and website designer Caleb Ward, 26, said.
Benjamin said one of the public’s favorites is the Mothman Latté. It contains activated charcoal, which creates a grey ombré effect on the drink and mediates the sweetness and flavor.
As for the coffee shop’s goals, the couple wants to bridge the gap between high quality coffee and fast and friendly hospitality.
Benjamin and Haley are working to perfect their hospitality skills by memorizing nearly every customer’s name after one visit.
“Haley and I both have Starbucks experience, so that’s where we learned to be good with names,” Benjamin said.
By getting to know their shop’s patrons, it adds a sweet personal touch to the customer experience.
“We wanted to create a space that could simultaneously have a progressive and experimental coffee menu (hence the Mothman latté) and be a comfortable place for somebody who’s never been to a coffee shop before,” Benjamin said. “This was a big reason our branding is colorful, and our name and theme is campy and fun.”
Benjamin and Haley are also looking to grow and expand through training new professional baristas.
“Growing a team and finding ways to invest in our baristas is central to us flourishing,” Benjamin said. “We’d love to see the coffee industry be a place for sustainable careers, and we want to participate in making that happen.”
The shop has been open for a little more than a month now, and it has been well received. The Lytles are proud of the quality of coffee they have been putting out.
“There are so many people who have a passion for coffee, and they are one of them,” UNT integrative studies major Daniel Roman, 20, said. “They are such a perfect example of being involved in the community.”
As the two businesses grow and develop further into their space, they hope to use it as an outlet for local artists and musicians to showcase their talent.
Featured Image: Benjamin Lytle pours cream into a Mothman Latte. This drink is made with activated charcoal to enhance its flavor. Josh Jamison