Coffee house wasn’t for sale, but owner was swayed by California couple’s vision

Coffee house wasn’t for sale, but owner was swayed by California couple’s vision

PHOTO: Mike and Sarah Lemon sit on the porch of the Coffee House at Second and Bridge on Wednesday, October 24, 2018./Brooke Wanser


When Mike and Sarah Lemon moved to Franklin two years ago, she stumbled across the Coffee House at Second and Bridge almost by accident.

After checking out an antique shop, she found the coffee house, and the couple soon became regulars on Sundays after church.

After purchasing the business in April, the couple is renovating the old home and adding a cozy European flair to downtown’s hidden gem.

A leap of faith

After spending 20 years in Redding, California, the Lemons decided to move their three children to the Nashville area in 2015, eventually settling in College Grove.

“California is a very difficult place for young, creative families,” Mike said of the fast-paced environment. “I think we were also ready for an adventure.”

When they visited Franklin, they spent their last night on the patio of Mellow Mushroom, overlooking town square.

“I said to him, ‘I want to live here,’” Sarah recalled.

They never intended to purchase a coffee shop, though when she was in her early twenties, Sarah dreamed of owning one.

The shop wasn’t for sale, but Mike met with owner Patrick Hayes, who had hired outside management to operate the business.

The two bonded over similarities in their backgrounds and a shared vision for the coffee shop, and Hayes soon agreed to sell to the Lemons.

Mike continues his job as an insurance marketer as the couple runs the restaurant, with added help from Sarah’s background in restaurant management.

The Lemons credit their team, including assistant manager Angie Muir, for sharing the vision for the welcoming venue.


Since the Lemons took over, they have tried to spruce up the place, adding their own touches of authenticity.

Flowers adorn tables, pumpkin and straw bales sit outside the entrance, and a fresh coat of paint renewed the exterior.

Their drip coffee blend is also for sale at the shop./Brooke Wanser

Sarah’s father and brother built the new wood and pipe structure at the shop’s entrance, which holds merchandise, like Bongo and Honest Roasters coffee and newly designed t-shirts.

“We want to imbue the place with a creative and artistic energy,” Mike said, noting works of art around the shop and live music nights they host on Saturday evenings.

Pastries, which were previously made from boxed mixes, are now made from scratch by a full-time baker. All soups, open-faced sandwiches, and avocado toast are also made fresh in house.

Instead of riffing on the popular Southern food trend, the Lemons instead want to insert the California-inspired fresh cafe fare.

“We want to serve world-class cafe food out of here,” he said. They will continue offering catering services, and will work to acquire their beer and wine license.

But, “We don’t want to change too much,” Sarah said.

“We don’t want to move the ball too far,” Mike added, “because what this place was before was homey and comfortable, and we really want to double down on that.”

A friend made a new sign for the coffee shop. The three stars at the top signify the couple’s three chilldren./Brooke Wanser

They also want to build the shop’s reputation as a community gathering place.

The coffee house recently hosted “Coffee with a Cop,” and a “Mingle and Jingle” event with local artisans is set to take place in the afternoon of November 10.

On their way out of the store Wednesday morning, two Franklin Police officers greeted the Lemons.

Later, a regular stopped for a moment to chat, describing himself as a “coffee addict.”

“Being here, kind of in the fabric of this place, is pretty special,” Mike admitted. “Being here, doing work, and seeing a dozen people who I know just through this place, but we’ve become friends to some degree, is so rewarding.”

In describing their ultimate vision, the couple used terms like “care,” “detail,” “warmth” and “whimsy.”

“This is a small place, and people want to come in, and you know their coffee, and you have a friendly face,” Sarah said.

“We want people to be joyful when they come here,” Mike said.

He paused, searching for the right words to use. “We want them to leave edified,” he said. “Biblical, in the good-for-the-soul kind of thing.”

Location: 144 2nd Avenue North, Franklin

Hours: 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Saturday, 7 a.m – 3:30 p.m. Sundays


About The Author

Brooke Wanser is the associate editor for the Franklin Home Page, and can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @BWanser_writes or @FranklinHomepg.

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