Musings, memories and mochas at the Pony Espresso

Like many of you, I was dismayed to open last Friday's paper and read that the Pony Espresso would be closing at the end of the month. I've enjoyed the coffee and camaraderie there since they opened several years ago, and have appreciated the convenience and friendly staff of our neighborhood coffeehouse.

Earlier this week I sat down with Gary Moss, owner of the Pony Espresso, to talk about what lies ahead."We're just really hopeful and blessed by the response," said Moss.

He shared that many people have expressed disappointment at the prospect of the shop closing, and that he's met with several parties interested in purchasing the store.

"We're playing it by ear," said Moss. "We hope to sell the business, not close the business. There's so much potential here. We'd like to find a proprietor who can expand the services and who has an ability to be on-site."

Gary and his wife, Karen, live in Oregon, where they own and operate two other businesses. They want to be able to spend more time at home with their three children: Allison, Grant and Elizabeth.

"We really needed to resolve the issue of family time," said Moss.

Moss holds a high opinion of all the people who work at the Pony Espresso. He shared a fond memory of meeting one of the Pony's first employees, Don Summo.

While they were in the process of building, Summo came by to take a look and asked, "Do you think you'd let an old guy like me work here?"

Summo's friendly and outgoing nature did not go unnoticed.

"Don set an unparalleled example for others," said Moss. "One early morning a woman pulled up to the drive-through and said, 'Do you see that man over there? (pointing to Summo). He's why I come here every day.'"

That easy rapport between customers and employees is one of the things that sets Pony Espresso apart.

"It's like 'Cheers!'" says Sherie Smith, who bakes the delicious goodies in the glass case each morning. "There's friendship and fellowship when you walk through that door. Everyone is called by their first name. It's been a nice ride working here."

Barista Whitney Logan echoes her sentiments. "It's not just a job here. It's a family."

Summo added, "I'm sad to see this place go. It's been good for the Ranchos. Lots of problems have been solved right there," as he gestured to the round tables and wooden chairs.

Moss calls his wife Karen the "heart and soul of this place."

"Everything that comes out of the bakery is something she's put together," he said. "Her standards are second to none. She loves this place and has been a real mentor and support to our employees."

The generosity of Gary and Karen has been a benefit to our local community. They have acted as volunteers, donated items for silent auctions, supported local sports programs, and hosted events for area schools.

"They just welcome everyone with open arms," said Smith.

Though residents of Oregon, Gary and Karen have strong ties to the community. Gary graduated from Whittell High School, and his father, mother and brother still live in the area.

"My grandfather was the first building inspector for Douglas County," Gary said with a laugh.

Gary plans to be here throughout the month, so stop by for a chat and one of their "March Mocha Madness" treats. The extensive mocha menu includes specialties such as a "Rocky Road," with hazelnut and marshmallow syrup, or a "Snapping Cream Turtle," with Italian cream syrup and caramel sauce. Yum!

Though he acknowledges that changes are ahead, Gary is full of hope.

"We're going to leave the door open and see what happens," he said.

I wish the best of luck to Gary, Karen, and their family. Their presence in the Ranchos will be sorely missed.

n Amy Roby can be reached by e-mail at


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