Cars pull up in front of the shop and stare in.
Women go to the drive up window, telling the staff they're too embarrassed to come in.
People wonder many things about Java Girls, but when you get right down to it, the place is really just a coffee shop.
Sure, management tends to hire attractive young women. Sure, management tends to encourage them to flirt. Sure, the girls dress up as nurses, cops or some other costume each Friday.
But really, it's still just a coffee shop.
Java Girls serves only non-alcoholic beverages. But the late hours and hip concept make it a place to hang out at night or after the work day.
LOCATION: Not the greatest. Here at Festiva, we're right down the street. But our office is pretty isolated, and getting to Java Girls might be a bit of a trip for most of the Valley, even those in McAllen. It's located on the edge of McAllen in Pharr, right down the street from Nolana's intersection with Jackson Road. Not much else in those parts. But hey, on the plus side there's ample parking day and night. And if you live on this side, it's the only place with gourmet coffee and true espresso for sale.
OPEN SINCE: This place was born on the Fourth of July like Tom Cruise. Java Girls opened its doors on Independence Day, and the girls decked themselves out in military-style duds. The store honored veterans and military personnel with a discount. Fast forward almost two months and Java Girls is still brewing.
CHECK OUT A PHOTO SLIDESHOW OF JAVA GIRLS
TIMES TO GO: Hit this place Friday between 7 and 8 p.m. That's when all the girls come in. It's a good post-dinner, pre-nightlife joint to hit off your weekend. And oh yeah, did we mention ALL the girls would be there then? Otherwise, you should probably stop by in the afternoon. It's not quite as busy as the morning, but it still has the same feel. And with less business the girls have more time to interact with customers, which is the appeal of the place to begin with.
COSTUMES: It's a Java Girl's tradition. Each Friday the staff dons themed outfits. They've done the ‘60s, Olympics and nurses among others. On the schedule today is Fairy Tales, and be sure stop in next week for the ‘80s. Love the ‘80s like your name is VH1.
DRINKS AND EATS: There's nothing too surprising here. Java Girls offers the standard assortment of coffees, espressos and iced drinks. They also make Italian sodas, which combines flavoring with club soda and half and half. For those not interested in caffeine, Java Girls features a variety of fruit smoothies. The girls also get creative and invent their own coffee blends. Just ask Java Girl Ingrid Rivera, who invented the Dirty Chai. It's a standard Chai concoction with a shot of espresso. And for eats, Java Girls has coffee cake and some other assorted pastries for sale. Not the best place to satisfy hunger, but the coffee list stacks up to any of the area's other houses.
WHO GOES: It's not just dudes hoping to float with pretty ladies. Java Girls draws frequent business groups. And why shouldn't they? They offer free wireless internet, and they also have an LCD projector available for meetings. Anyone interested in using it, need only contact Java Girls in advance to reserve it for their meeting. Also, the girls say families and older folks often stop in, probably because it's the only gourmet coffee joint on this side of town.
PRICES: With no alcohol for sale, chances are you won't break the bank at Java Girls. Of course espresso drinks run higher than the standard cup of joe at a gas station, but it's no more or less expensive than a place like Starbucks. Prices run from the low end of around $2 to the highest cost of about $5. Not too bad for your caffeine fix.
HOURS: Monday through Thursday the joint opens up at the early hour of 5 a.m. and stays open until 9 p.m. During Friday's festive costume day, Java Girls stays open until 10:30 p.m., same deal for Saturday. Sunday they limit their hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
ATMOSPHERE: It's a sheik feel inside, with marble-styled surfaces and clean modern design. There's some corny art on the wall. What's with the Scarface poster? That sort of gives off a college dorm room feel. But the overall atmosphere is great. Very modern, and definitely a relaxing cool feel.
THE VERDICT: Ok, they don't sell beer. But other than that this is a cool place to hang. Java Girls is a nationwide chain, and the general idea is that friendly, good-looking women flirt with customers as they serve coffee. The staff here does just that. They're smiley, bubbly and on the ball. So don't expect a bar-type experience, but if you're looking to unwind a bit before you hit the nightlife, this could be your place.
Zack Quaintance covers features and entertainment for The Monitor. You can reach him at (956) 683-4447.