By BROOKE WANSER
Nestled within the brick complex of shops and restaurants in Berry Farms is one of south Franklin’s newest novelties: Coffee and Coconuts, a gourmet coffee shop.
With robin’s egg blue floors, cozy nooks, woven light fixtures that resemble bird cages and other sea-inspired bric-a-brac, Missi Gallimore, a petite, freckled blonde with a friendly smile and a honey-sweet voice, fits right in.
She opened the shop in June after deciding she wanted others to be able to drink coffee in an upbeat environment.
“All these coffee shops that I went to, the atmosphere was dark, and barn wood and metal chairs where your butt gets cold when you sit down on them,” she said. “It just wasn’t what I liked.”
The shop resembles something from a Southern California beach town, though Gallimore is a Nashville native with a music pedigree to match.
Gallimore and her husband, record producer Byron Gallimore, have long been involved in the Nashville music scene; she works with artists and repertoire, scouting talent and choosing which songs will make the final cut on albums.
After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University with a degree in music business, Gallimore applied for a job at a law firm. “They didn’t hire me, but they passed my resumé onto a really well-known record producer at the time,” she said. “I worked at Sony Records, and it just kind of started from there.”
That’s where Gallimore met her husband, an award-winning producer who has worked on records for Brooks & Dunn, Keith Urban, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw.
Though she’s not a musician or writer herself, Gallimore said she has a connection to songs and those who write them. “I just have the ear!” she laughed.
“From the infancy of a song, where a writer’s sitting in a house or a writer’s room and they’re playing and creating that song, seeing the song all the way through to being recorded by Tim McGraw or Keith Urban or Carrie Underwood or whoever,” she said, is her passion.
Gallimore has three publishing companies she works with, and this, she says, gesturing to the brightly colored space.
“I still love music, that’s still my passion, that’s what I do,” Gallimore said. “I just needed an outlet.”
Strangely enough, Gallimore insists she never set out to own a coffee shop. “I loved coffee. I loved the beach. And I loved music,” she said, pausing to greet a few regulars as they walked in the front door.
Gallimore, who lives in nearby Thompson’s Station with her husband and three daughters, said she was sitting in the Tito’s Mexican restaurant across the street one day when inspiration struck.
“It was being built out, and I thought it would be the cutest place for a little coffee shop,” she said of the store that was supposed to be a United Parcel Service store. When those plans fell through, the developers contacted her.
“I was literally sitting right here at the light, at Columbia, and I just went, ‘Yes!’” Gallimore said. “And it just kind of birthed from that.”
She began by recruiting Spencer Connatser, a former French teacher at Battle Ground Academy whom she laughingly refers to as a “coffee snob,” as the general manager for Coffee and Coconuts. “He had been helping me through this whole process. And finally I asked him, ‘Do you want to run this place?’ And he’s like, ‘I thought you’d never ask!’”
“She thinks I’m a coffee snob because I like good coffee and I don’t like bad coffee!” Connatser pooh-poohed. He worked at Starbucks for a while which led to his interest in coffee’s tasting notes and flavor profiles. He accepted Gallimore’s job offer, even though he enjoyed his job as a teacher. “I was really excited about a new adventure,” he said, “and ready to take on a different challenge.”
After wearing many hats at BGA as a teacher, athletics coach and bus driver, Connatser continues to juggle responsibilities at the shop: “A lot of it is working shifts, making coffee. I do it all. It’s also inventory, running errands, communicating with potential clients.”
For 27-year-old Connatser, being employed by paragons within the Nashville music community doesn’t faze him.
“It’s not a thing where they hold it over anybody’s head that they’re really well-known and really well-respected in the music industry,” Connatser said. “If you didn’t ask them what they do for a living, you may or may not known in a two-hour conversation, because they’re just great people.”
And, he had something else to bond with Gallimore over: their shared love of coffee.
But other than loving coffee, “I knew nothing about coffee,” Gallimore said of creating the business. “I just did it.”
For inspiration, Gallimore said she “stalked every coffee shop in town” and many others in various cities she traveled to.
Gallimore said she did have a few ideas for tactical plans: “I knew that I wanted multiple roasters. I wanted to do a rotation of roasters.” Of the coffee selection process, Gallimore said she and Connatser visited different roasters and interviewed owners. Along with Revelator out of Birmingham, Ala., she chose Muletown Coffee Roasters. “Muletown is in Columbia [Tennessee] and I immediately fell in love with those guys because they’re songwriters.”
Decorating the small space was all Gallimore’s hand: many of the photos in collages on the walls were taken on Gallimore’s iPhone while on vacation in the tropics.
“This was all done through seeing things on Pinterest,” she said.
Her inspiration for the sparkling space was the beach. “I think of the beach as just very white and clean,” Gallimore said. Her husband, dressed in blue jeans and an old white t-shirt, interrupted briefly.
“How’re you doin’, I’m Byron,” he said in heavily-twanged voice before asking Gallimore a question and ambling off to the back of the store.
Gallimore continued, describing more of the photos, which came from a woman who frequents the coffee shop.
“She loves my whole look and she’s a destinations photographer, and she had those made for me.” Of the Lana Del Ray photograph in the corner, Gallimore giggled: “I stole that from my daughter’s room.”
So how does she balance work and running a business?
“I come in here early, I work early, then I go do all my business meetings during the day,” Gallimore said. Right now, she’s listening to songs for Keith Urban. She’ll even have meetings with her assistant and songwriters at the coffee shop. “I have a great team around me, that’s why I can make all this work,” she said.
5 Things She Loves:
- Favorite restaurant in town: “Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant. It’s very authentic Mexican with a flair for seafood. It’s a little more on the healthier side, if Mexican can be healthy.”
- Favorite coffee shop in town: “I’d have to say, in Nashville, it’d have to be Crema. Other than this place here. I love their coffee, I don’t know that I love their atmosphere. I love their coffee, though.”
- Downtime or favorite way to relax: “I have no downtime. I do pilates, 3 days a week.”
- Thing that you always have in your purse or bag: “Headphones. And sunglasses.”
- Where do you want to go on your next vacation: “I promised my daughter that next summer we’d go to Mykonos. We’ve been, but she has not been, my youngest. When we went she was a baby and she had to stay here.”
Upcoming events: Gallimore said Coffee and Coconuts will be hosting musical events once a month, and maybe more depending on demand. The first event, featuring Christian music artist Becca Bradley and speaker Dr. Jeff Huxford, is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. this Thursday.