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VOL. 132 | NO. 163 | Thursday, August 17, 2017

Coffee, Bakery Shop To Occupy Busy Corner In Cooper-Young

Jody Callahan

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When David Adams first started considering a second Bluff City Coffee & Bakery location, he didn’t even think about the Cooper-Young neighborhood.

But one day, local businessman Charlie Ryan walked into Bluff City’s Downtown location and started talking up a piece of property he owned in the Midtown neighborhood.

“I wasn’t really thinking about Cooper-Young, more East Memphis with a focus on a bakery,” said Adams, 62. “Mainly because most of the places down here (in Cooper-Young) just don’t have the presence. It’s a strip on the street with no parking.”

But when Ryan showed him the former Bank of America location at the northwest corner of Cooper Street and Young Avenue, Adams was intrigued. He liked the patio, he liked the smallish size and, most of all, he liked the location.

Bluff City Coffee & Bakery is opening a second location at the corner of Cooper Street and Young Avenue in Midtown. Owner David Adams says this location will focus more on pastries, sandwiches and other baked goods. (Daily News/Houston Cofield)

“Being on the corner, being in the center of Cooper-Young, the center of the neighborhood. This is a walking neighborhood. And the size of it. It was small. We didn’t want a large 3,000-square-foot facility. It’s 1,300 square feet,” Adams said. “We worked through it for the next six weeks. We figured out how we could make it work, if we could make it work, the cost. Then we signed the lease at the first of June.”

So in late July, work began to convert the bank into an eatery, a project with an estimated cost of around $300,000. And by the first week of September, the aroma of fresh coffee and baked goods should be wafting out of the building, just in time for the Cooper-Young Festival on Sept. 16.

That’s also good news for neighborhood leaders, who have been worried about that property since the former bank closed in early 2015. Originally, Bank of America considered keeping the ATM there while leaving the actual building empty, an idea Cooper-Young leaders strongly opposed.

“The neighborhood as a whole was concerned when the bank wanted to essentially leave it vacant but maintain their presence just for the ATM. We were happy when they finally gave up that spot. This is the fruition of that,” said Mark Morrison, president of the Cooper-Young Community Association. “That’s basically our front door, our front yard. The neighborhood came together and opposed that.”

While the new business will likely provide competition with two existing neighborhood entities – Java Cabana and Tart – Morrison said he thinks it will be a boon to the neighborhood.

“I’m thrilled that that property’s going to be occupied with a new business, especially at that corner, which is the main street of our community,” he said. “I like coffee shops because they kind of tend to become a center for people to socialize. I think that could be valuable. But more importantly, I’m just excited for the property to be active again, regardless of what it is.”

Cheryl Hodges Mesler, co-owner of Burke’s Book Store across the street from the new eatery, said she appreciates the fact that it’ll bring in people at different times of the day.

“Getting an early morning crowd down here is going to be great. … Not all the places around here do lunch, so it’s going to be bringing people in during the day, so that’s great,” Mesler said. “I think every new business that comes in here adds something new to the neighborhood. I think this is a little different than what else we’ve got here.”

Adams said the shop will be open seven days a week, from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, with plans to stay open to 9 p.m. on weekends. They will offer the same range of sandwiches, pastries and drinks as the Downtown location, he added, although he’s also considering adding plate lunches in the future. They expect to have six to eight employees, compared to 10 at the current location.

Bluff City Coffee will have free Wi-Fi as well as what Adams is calling a “quiet room” inside the shop, where people can read or work without too much disruption. The shop will have around 10-12 seats inside with another 30-40 on the patio, which will be dog friendly. Adams said he has not decided on whether to ban smoking on the patio.

“We’re going to offer the full breadth of coffee, like we do Downtown. We’ll offer the full sandwich menu for lunch and breakfast. We’ll offer a wide variety of pastries, from cinnamon rolls to scones to muffins, cookies, cakes and pies,” Adams said. “That’s what we want to bring here, more of a bakery effect, more baked goods. We think those will do better here. Downtown, we don’t sell a lot of sweets or baked goods. Here you have families, so we feel that will do very well here.”

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