On the corner of Second Avenue North and Bridge Street in downtown Franklin, guests move fluidly through a set of vintage red doors on a gingerbread-looking house. Inside, one room holds a musician with a guitar and a songwriter with a lyric. In another sits a gaggle of older ladies, passing gossip between wingback chairs and a 19th century organ. And just through the adjacent doorway, children in diapers topple building blocks while a young mother looks on.
No, it’s not someone’s home; it’s the new coffee shop that (bravely) first opened its doors the same weekend as the annual Dickens of a Christmas festival on Main Street. And since The Coffee House at Second and Bridge started serving Bongo Java Roasting Co. coffee last month, it’s already met its original objective—to provide a hangout for locals of all generations.
“It’s a place for everyone, all ages. We’ve had so many different kinds of people since we opened. And we already have regulars! How cool is that?” said Barbara Spierto, the Coffee House’s manager. “We’re excited about that. This really is a community coffee house at its core—did I mention we’re hosting local artwork?—and it’s what we’re all about.”
In addition to offering Bongo Java coffee, specialty blends and a full-service espresso bar, the Coffee House also serves crepes, smoothies, desserts (including gluten-free options), different oatmeals and more.
Spierto said owners Pat and Gail Hayes, both originally from Canada, wanted to launch the community coffee house concept after noticing a void of locally owned ones in the immediate area. So they bought the house and began by carefully restoring it, stripping the floors to the original foundation and bringing character to all corners.
“This is something they wanted to do, to bring people together in this house. A happy place to work, to socialize, and to just be,” she said. “Pat and Gail do so much for this community, and they really love Franklin. This is just another way they have shown it.”
The Hayes dreamed up the five themed rooms in The Coffee House, and each caters to the artistic, social or business life of the Franklin culture.
The pair decorated with mix ‘n’ match antique furniture and trinkets, layering each section with a home-y vibe and comfortable ambiance: The café area is often populated with business people and social meet-ups, while the music room spins vinyl records that guests have provided. The library, sectioned off towards the back of the house, offers a more quiet haven for those looking to study or play a game of chess on the shop’s vintage board.
“Look around! This is for everyone. Right now, we’ve got businessmen, kids studying, moms on a play date, and a writing session going on,” Spierto said. “Plus we stay open late [10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday], so there’s a place to hang out in downtown. Just the other month, I came out of the Theatre with a group at 9 p.m. and there wasn’t really a place to go. I told them, ‘just wait a few weeks!’”
Spierto, who is also the volleyball and basketball coach at Grassland Middle School, said the Hayes approached her in early 2012 to manage The Coffee House. Pat owns the Flower Pot Press just next door on Second Avenue, and Gail operates her family counseling business in the same building. Though they don’t oversee the daily operations of the place, Spierto said the close proximity allows them to stay connected to The Coffee House community and its ongoing direction.
“The Coffee House and this area both have a good ole hometown feel,” Spierto said. “We’ve had so many business people support us, especially in the first six days we’ve been open. It’s pretty amazing. That’s what makes Franklin so great.”
The store is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
For information, visit www.facebook.com/SecondandBridge.
This is part of a series on merchants in Downtown Franklin that runs in the Williamson Herald each week.