PHOTO: Sadie Shaw-Brooks and husband Kyle Brooks sell brew at the RedByrd Coffee Shop from their custom-built trailer in Leiper’s Fork //Brooke Wanser.
By BROOKE WANSER
For the owner of Leiper’s Fork’s only coffee shop, “It’s all about joy.”
That’s the RedByrd Coffee Shop’s motto, said Sadie Shaw-Brooks and her husband, Kyle Brooks, as they sat inside their custom-built trailer shop at the corner of Old Hillsboro and Bailey Road. The trailer is right next door to the Shell gas station and diagonally across the road from Green’s Grocery.
The couple, married since 2013, both beam when talking about serving their local customers, the aforementioned joy evident in their smiles.
The RedByrd opened in February, but Shaw-Brooks first dreamt of opening a coffee shop in 2005.
Not a metaphorical dream; “I was actually slumbering,” Shaw-Brooks laughed.
In the vivid dream, she was the owner of a coffee shop, similar to ones in San Francisco, with earthy, wooden tones and an air of individuality.
“A place to go for community, where you can wrap up a lot of different things like art classes, music classes, spoken word,” she said.
The setup mirrors Shaw-Brooks’ desire for a positive community space.
Inside, nooks and crannies of the small shop are filled by hats, shirts and mugs emblazoned with a red bird logo she designed.
On the shiny espresso machine, a magnet reads, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken,” an Oscar Wilde quote that Shaw-Brooks said is one of her favorites.
Outside, wooden porches extend to the side and front, while picnic tables dot the grassy expanse, one with a cloth checkerboard.
Behind the trailer is a playground; in the summer months, the local farmer’s market will bring more people to the intersection.
Part of the idea behind operating the mobile shop is to travel to diverse festivals and events. They recently returned from their first road trip in the trailer, to an antiques festival in Texas.
The coffee shop’s name came from the bluegrass rendition of the song “Redbird,” as performed by Jim Lauderdale, Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys.
“That song really brought me to Nashville,” Shaw-Brooks, an opera singer, said of her transition to bluegrass and country music. “It made me go, I think I can do this. It’s a very catchy, fun song.”
Brooks hails from Maine, while Shaw-Brooks was born and raised in Northern California.
Though Brooks worked as a computer programmer on the East Coast, both he and Shaw-Brooks, who performed with the San Francisco Lamplighters Music Theatre, moved to Nashville a decade ago to pursue musical ambitions.
After several life events, including Shaw-Brooks’ father’s death, she decided the present was the best time to pursue her dream of opening the coffee shop.
“That was the kicker,” she said, blinking back tears.
The couple moved from Bellevue to the Fork last June, where they began planning the shop after Shaw-Brooks quit her job as a network engineer.
Inspired by binge-watching a tiny house television show, the wooden-paneled trailer with an upstairs loft was designed by Shaw-Brooks and built by a contractor at a cost of $75,000.
They haven’t advertised their shop other than on social media, so most of their customers find them through foot traffic and word of mouth.
But they have already won the loyalty of their local customers with original brews and unique drinks, like the blackberry mocha, a nod to Shaw-Brooks’ childhood in Eureka, a town ripe with the fruit.
“I feel like they’re surprised,” she said. “Most people, when they come in here, they’ll be like, ‘This is really good!’”
Their roaster is a longtime Nashville roaster who supplies Franklin restaurants like Merridee’s and 55 South. RedByrd is currently the only coffee shop they work with.
Shaw-Brooks created the espresso blend, and worked with the roaster to create other signature roasts for the shop.
Ironically, Brooks doesn’t drink coffee, but now drinks decaffeinated brew and is a certified barista since taking classes.
After writing songs for decades, he is now working on a record. He often writes inside the loft at the shop while Shaw-Brooks brews and serves customers, though they often work as a team.
Leiper’s Fork is known for an amalgamation of celebrity musician residents, and Shaw-Brooks smiled when asked if she has any famous customers.
“Mhm,” she said, laughing.
As the business grows, the couple hopes to host evening concerts and conversations where musicians can play on the lawn.
At 5:30 p.m. on a clear Thursday evening, 30 minutes after closing time, a woman waltzed up to the counter.
“Hey, are you open?” she asked.
“We could be,” Shaw-Brooks responded, grinning. “We have the equipment on.”
“I don’t really need to have caffeine at this time,” the woman said. “I’ll come back.”
Like others who see the wooden-paneled building rising from the field, “She just saw it and she was so curious,” Shaw-Brooks said.
Hours: Monday, 6:30- 10:30 a.m.; Wednesday-Friday, 6:30-10:30 a.m., 1-5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Location: 4348 Old Hillsboro Road, Leiper’s Fork
Phone: (629) 333-2271