In more ways than one, the opening of a new coffee shop at Homestead Manor in Thompson’s Station comes at an ideal time.
First of all, it brings life back to the home that dates to 1819 and served as a restaurant from 2009 to its closure a couple of years ago. A. Marshall Hospitality, which owns area dining establishments such as Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant, Americana Taphouse and others, operated the manor as a farm-to-table restaurant until closing it in February 2019.
The timing of its reopening as the 1819 Coffee shop also coincides with the gradual return to normalcy from the slow and often arduous slog through the COVID-19 pandemic. With the vision of people seeking a path out of isolation after so many months, the new owners and operators of the property saw an opportunity in which a spacious coffee shop on 48 pastoral acres could play a critical role.
“We want people to be able to come together, and that was the impetus behind opening a coffee shop,” said Aaron Sanders, chief operations officer for Avoda Holdings, which manages the property.“We recognize that coffee meetings are often the bedrock for business and personal relationships, and we want to provide a unique, high-quality coffee experience for those longing to connect."
Help from a ‘friendship bench’
Avoda Holdings worked with the Christian band and ministry Here Be Lions to purchase Homestead Manor in September 2020. The first order of business was to update the property’s open-air event barn. As that work evolved, the new owners opened the space to the Thompson’s Station Farmers Market, helping it to grow from seven vendors to 46.
The barn is also used for Sunday morning worship services that are led by Pastor Dustin Smith, who is leader of Here Be Lions. In addition, the space can be rented for weddings, reunions, corporate retreats and similar events.
It’s through the 1819 Coffee shop where most connections will be made, according to Sanders. Relationships can be formed that can help to lessen depression, anxiety and suicide rates.
"We were inspired by how the nation of Zimbabwe tackled their depression and suicide crisis,” Sanders explained. “They established a 'friendship bench' in each village and encouraged elders to sit at the bench and listen to those who were struggling. In a year's time, they saw a double-digit decrease in suicide rates.”
Quality coffee for a quality experience
Guests of 1819 Coffee can congregate inside the coffee shop itself, where orders are placed amidst the aromas of various flavors and chatters of conversation. The house coffee is a signature blend from Narrow Gate Coffee Roasters.
For quieter moments — whether they’re needed for more intimate conversations or for getting lost in a book or tending to work — visitors can find seating and tables on the patio or wander through part of the home filled with cozy rooms and nooks. Regardless of one’s reason for visiting a coffee shop, Sanders said 1819 Coffee is bringing quality coffee and a quality experience.
“I think right now is the perfect time for this,” he said. “The point is to get you out. You’re still going to do what you need to do, but also have a chance to meet some people and have a relationship.
“We’re intentionally creating a space for community and friendship because everyone deserves a community to do life with. That’s why we’re doing a coffee shop. We’re not trying to become rich on a coffee shop. We’re just trying to create a space for people to connect.”
The 1819 Coffee shop held a daylong grand opening Monday. It is open Monday through Saturday 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
As for future plans, Avoda Holdings plans to implement elements of agri-tourism with community gardens, school field trips, picnic packages, walking trails, an incubator and accelerator for businesses that share the priority of building community and community-wide events.