As families make plans to celebrate our nation’s independence, one Andrews family remembers a fallen soldier who fought to keep that independence.
Cpl. Ray Bevel wasn’t a big fan of coffee. But, plenty of coffee drinkers are now fans of his.
It’s mid-morning inside Odessa’s newest coffee shop. Baristas work feverishly to feed the caffeine deprived as a modest crowd sips and savors.
Sitting feet away from his clientele on this particular morning, owner Jerry Bevel.
“One cup a day is about all I drink,” Bevel says.
Despite Jerry’s tame taste for java, his store’s signature beverage hits the spot, in more ways than one.
“Ray Ray’s,” Bevel says with a smile.
“And, it’s pretty good.
Ray Ray’s Mocha headlines the menu at Corporal Ray’s Coffee Shop. The drink and the restaurant is named in honor of Jerry’s son, Ray, who was killed while serving overseas in April 2007. Ray joined the army just a couple years after graduating high school in Andrews.
Thanksgiving 2006 was the last time Jerry got to visit with him.
“You know, they tell ya they take a boy and turn him into a man. Well, that’s a fact,” Bevel says.
“I was super proud of what he became.”
Just months after Ray’s death the Bevels opened up the first Corporal Ray’s in Andrews.
“We wanted to do something to remember Ray,” Bevel says.
Jerry says popular demand led to the Odessa expansion. The Faudree Road location opened in June with Ray’s sister at the helm.
“I worked at the one in Andrews, when I was in high school,” Keshia Arnold says.
Arnold calls it a privilege to serve as this shop’s manager.
Even when we were going through the process to get this store, it just felt like Ray was involved in every part of it.”
Military and patriotic décor cover the walls. Images of the fallen soldier are sprinkled throughout.
“I don’t look at them,” Bevel says.
“I just cant. Just hurts.”
Those pictures surround the dine-in customers, serving as a reminder of the bravery, which inspired the very brew they’re sipping on.
“What we do and enjoy every day; it’s not free,” Bevel says.
“And, it’s very expensive.”
A cost that cannot be reimbursed but can be remembered one cup at a time.
Bevel adds: “I hope he would say ‘Good job.’”