Texas Business reports: At a time when large corporations have swallowed personal service, a small, family-run business in Waco is committed to building relationships and catering to the mom and pop restaurants we all love.
I spent an afternoon with the service and delivery guys at Waco Carbonic, listening to stories about working the loading dock as teenagers and the importance of remembering to set the emergency brake on the forklift. I even tagged along on a delivery, where we were recognized and welcomed by restaurant managers. It’s this personal touch and daily interaction that has brought Waco Carbonic steady business for more than 60 years.
Abe Khoury started Waco Carbonic in 1946 when he returned home to Waco from his service in the Navy. The original shop was across the street from its current location on La Salle Ave, just a block away from the home where Khoury was born. He started his carbonic business by traveling to local restaurants around Waco, servicing their soda fountain and ice machines on site. The company has since been passed down to Abe’s son David Khoury, and his grandson Kevin is next in line to run the family business.
Same location. Same family. But one thing that has changed is the services they offer. Waco Carbonic is a one-stop shop for restaurants and eateries in Waco. Customers can rely on the Khourys for sales, leasing, consulting, installation and on-site repair of icemakers, coolers, and soda fountain machines. They also deliver soda syrup, bulk CO2 (dry ice) and other materials to restaurants in a 100-mile radius of their location at 431 La Salle Ave in Waco.
What sets Waco Carbonic apart is their commitment to the small local businesses.
“We take care of the little companies because the large corporations don’t want to deal with them,” David’s sister, Sue said. They do this by maintaining personal communication and not requiring a minimum order for product delivery.
“Some of these restaurants don’t need to order in bulk because they don’t go through soda like franchises do,” David said. “We’re the only people that will still make the trip for just a couple of boxes.”
Many of Abe Khoury’s first patrons continue to do business with Waco Carbonic today. These are primarily local restaurants that have been serving Waco for decades. One of these long-standing clients is Waco landmark, Vitek’s BBQ. This business relationship first started between Billy Joe Vitek and Abe Khoury, and it is sustained today by Billy Joe’s daughter, Julie Kieth.
“I have been approached by Pepsi and Coke,” Keith said, “but the advantage of sticking with Waco Carbonic is that I can call and have someone come by that same afternoon.”
Keith said she has learned over the years which repairs constitute an emergency and which ones can wait to be dealt with the next day.
“I used to call all the time like a new mom with baby, but I’ve learned to troubleshoot over the years,” Keith said. She appreciates that the Khourys are always available and willing to help her over the phone or send a technician.
“When you go with the big corporations, you have to call an 800 number. Maybe you’ll get a rep to come out that day, maybe not,” Keith said. “That’s what’s nice about Waco Carbonic, they’re local, just down the street and they will send someone down right away.”
Among other Waco favorites, Waco Carbonic serves George’s Restaurant & Catering and Poppa Rollos Pizza, as well as a number of restaurants from Waco to Lampasas. With just two guys making deliveries and six service technicians, all of these clients see a familiar face each time Waco Carbonic comes to visit.
It is refreshing to know that small businesses still drive this country and people value the personal touch. For more than 60 years, Waco Carbonic has served the mom and pop restaurants of Waco and beyond. Through prompt and personal service, this business keeps many of Waco’s landmark dining venues running smoothly.