Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Coffee. Lunch. in Nashville, TN - A Place so good, you'll come for coffee and stay for lunch!

Coffee. Lunch. - A place so good, you'll come for coffee and stay for lunch!

I've found a great new coffee shop in Nashville my friends - Coffee. Lunch. !! The best part of the place is that, in addition to their wonderful coffee, lattes, cappuccino and Hot Apple Cider, they offer a creative variety of great sandwiches and desserts! I sat down with the owners, Khalil Davis and Zach Maddox to find out more about them, where the concept for Coffee. Lunch. came from (I loooove the simplicity of the name, BTW!) and how they found their niche in the Nashville Food Scene :-)

Co-Owner/Chef Zach Maddox, Pastry Chef Audra Dykes, Sous Chef Brittany Kane, Co-Owner/Barista Khalil Davis
Let me be the first to tell you that this is one COOL group of people right here!!

Dr. Carmen April: So Khalil, tell me were you are from originally..... 

Khalil Davis: I grew up in Detroit, Michigan

Dr. Carmen April: How did you get to Nashville?

Khalil Davis: I came to Nashville by way of Tennessee State University in 1998.

Dr. Carmen April:  What was your major at TSU?

Khalil Davis: Accounting.

Dr. Carmen April: Okay, I’m sure that helps you out here as an entrepreneur a little bit.

Khalil Davis: A little bit here and there.  I’d never want to be an accountant...LOL!  I’m more of a people person

Dr. Carmen April:  You seem to be great at talking with people and getting to know your customers! So it sounds like you have found what you’re good at and it works for you.

Dr. Carmen April: After TSU, you and your wife moved to California. Tell me about your move to
California and what you did there......

Khalil Davis:  So my move to California was an act in faith, thanks to my wife.  She had just graduated from Belmont with a social work degree and was offered a position at Larkin Street Youth Services.  That’s what she wanted to do, so we moved out to San Francisco.

Dr. Carmen April: Did you like it?

Khalil Davis: I loved it!  I was so mad when she said, “I don’t like it.  I want to move back.”  I was like, “noooo!” LOL

Dr. Carmen April:  When did you start learning about coffee and the coffee business?

Khalil Davis: I got my first café job at Starbucks in Nashville in 2002. I worked at Starbucks for three years then moved on to a Mom & Pop Coffee Shop.  I worked at Fido for seven years.  Then we moved to California, left California, and moved back here with the plan of opening up a café.  That’s what I wanted to do. I also worked at Hot & Cold. One day Zach came in and said, “how committed are you to this place?  I was like, “I’m not!  I’m shopping for a location for my café.” He had the same idea.  He had a little girl on the way and he didn’t want to work nights, either.  But he still wanted to cook, so we sat down, put our heads together, and this is what we came up.

Khalil Davis:
    Zach had been in the restaurant industry before, was a truck driver for a while, was a bartender for a while, cooked for a while, he can tell you the rest........ he did a little of Everything! 

Dr. Carmen April: So, You guys decided on this spot for your Cafe' because…...?

Khalil Davis:   His wife works next door.  When I told him I was looking at different buildings, he was like, “well, I’ve got a place in mind.  You want to go look at it?”  Fiddlecakes had just gone out of business earlier in the year, maybe three months before we came to look at it. 

Dr. Carmen April: So some of the stuff was already set up in this location?

Khalil Davis:    Yes, we didn’t have to do anything!  The only construction we had to do was cutting a hole in the wall to pass food through.

Dr. Carmen April: Do you guys bake your own bread here?

Khalil Davis:    Yeah, we bake everything here in-house. 

Turkey and Cheddar Sandwich - Turkey, Mayonnaise, Pablano cream and arugula on a Cheddar Hoagie

Dr. Carmen April: Tell me about how you and Zach decided to leave the comforts of where you were working and to venture out on your own. 

Khalil Davis:
    As much as I loved working for Bongo Java, I had a feeling that to get to the next level, someone would have had to die and I don’t want anybody to die LOL!!!  I had an idea of what I wanted my coffee shop to look like and what I wanted to do with it.  I was doing my business, planning, shopping locations.  Zach wanted to be part of a coffee house and I don’t cook.

Dr. Carmen April: That sounds like a match made in heaven!  It’s a good compliment.  You fit each other well. 

Dr. Carmen April:
Most entrepreneurs have hiccups along the way.  Did you guys encounter any while opening up Coffee. Lunch.?

Khalil Davis: Yes we did!  So the room that our kitchen is in- we thought it was way bigger than it was.  We had an idea that we'd have a table here, coolers, racks on the wall- nope!  It was a third of the size that we thought it was.  That was hiccup number one. Another hiccup we had was when we were trying to get into this place, there were two other companies that were also trying to get in so it was a bidding war.  We had to kiss the ring of our landlord, bring him gifts LOL! 

Dr. Carmen April:
  Tell me where the name for Coffee. Lunch. came from.... 

Khalil Davis:    Zach and I were still trying to come up with a name. Lindsey was putting our business plan into legible professional format - format that wasn’t written out on lined paper (LOL!).  Every time she came to the title of the café, she just put in parentheses coffee comma lunch and kept going throughout the page.  Then our landlord says, “so you guys are going to call it Coffee. Lunch.?” Yep!  Yep, we are! 

Dr. Carmen April:   Tell me about the coffee and drink selection that you have.   We can start out by talking about this apple cider.....It’s so good!   

Khalil Davis:
It was time for cider when we opened up.  We opened up on September 4th and after we had been open for a couple of weeks and people started to ask for hot cider....

Dr. Carmen April: That’s what I always get when I go into coffee shops.

Khalil Davis: The hard part was finding local apple cider. The rest of the coffee is pretty standard from one café to the next.  Some places have specialty drinks that they already have put together.  I didn’t want to do that because as a customer you’re pitching in. I’d rather the customer be able to make everything the way they like and give them the option to customize their drink. You can cut and paste the syrups any way you want to and we can do the rest.”

 HOT APPLE CIDER: I CRAVE Apple Cider in the fall and winter! Heck, who am I kidding.....I crave it all year 'round LOL!!

YUM! Khalil includes a cinnamon stick in each and every cup of Apple Cider...NICE touch!

Dr. Carmen April:
Good!  Do you make any of the syrups yourself?

Khalil Davis:    We make all the syrups in the house.  We try to keep it artful!  There’s not a lot in here that we don’t make.  We don’t make our chips, we don’t make our tea, we don’t make our chi, and we don’t make our beans.  Other than that, we make our own bread, we make our syrups, all the condiments, hummus, and pastries from scratch.  Even the vanilla wafers that we put in our banana pudding, we make from scratch.

Dr. Carmen April:  What have you had to sacrifice, being an entrepreneur? 

Khalil Davis:    Time! If you look at it on paper, I work a lot for a little.  But I'm also working for myself and it's benefiting me. One of the frustrating things is if something’s out of place, you’re like “ahhh......I don’t feel like taking care of that.” But you kind of have to because there’s nobody else that’s going to do it.  You’re like, I kind of wish somebody would clean that for me.  I’m tech support, I’m janitor, I’m the repairman.   

Dr. Carmen April: Tell me what is next for Coffee. Lunch.

Khalil Davis:
    Last month, we did our first dinner.  We sold tickets and provided customers with a five course meal.  But customers couldn't see what they were going to eat until they got here! We didn’t even know what we were going to make LOL......We planned the menu the day before! Folks got to talk to 15 other people that they may or may not have known.  It’s an intimate setting.   

SWITCH! Here's the portion of the Interview where I talk with Co-Owner/Chef Zach Maddox

Dr. Carmen April:    Zach, Tell me where you’re from.  Are you from Nashville? 

Zack Maddox:    No, I moved to Nashville in 1998 from Seattle, Washington. 

Dr. Carmen April:
  What did you when you first moved here?

Zack Maddox:
    I cooked at Café Coco.  I worked there for a couple of years

Dr. Carmen April:  How did you decide that you wanted to branch out on your own and be an entrepreneur?

Zack Maddox:
    I’ve loved to cook since I was fourteen.  I’ve always been good at managing stuff.  I took a little break, drove trucks for a while then got back into it and worked at the Bound’ry for a while. I wanted to start a cafe and was just trying to figure out a way to do something different than the way most people are doing it - lunch seemed like a good little niche to get in.  My wife works next door to the shop, so I knew this place was available and that kind of sold me on the idea of starting this business. 

Dr. Carmen April:
    Did the idea come about overnight?

Zack Maddox:    No, we had a business plan worked out for an all-night spot that was going to be in East Nashville, but the building fell through on me.  The guy never called me back on that.  So it was kind of the same concept and we were just going to rework the plan that we already had.  I’ve always been the be-your-own-boss type of person, so it’s always been a goal to have my own little shop.

Dr. Carmen April:    Were you ever formally trained?

Zack Maddox:    I went to the Art Institute for a quarter here right before I started working at the Bound’ry- right when I got back into cooking again.  It just kind of wasn’t for me.  It was huge pressure and they’re always saying, “you can’t do this.  You can’t do that.”  Having cooked for almost twenty years before I went to school and then being told what you can do or can’t do, just wasn’t the situation that I needed to be in. 

Dr. Carmen April:    You don’t strike me as the type of person who likes to sit within very constrained boundaries LOL!

Zack Maddox:    Oh no.  Not at all. 

Dr. Carmen April:    What were you initially thinking when you developed the menu?

Zack Maddox:    We were just kind of thinking, one of the things we want is to do everything ourselves, as much as possible, on our own.  Personally, I just love sandwiches.  Being a dad with a small kiddo, that’s what I usually get a chance to eat -  everything gets turned into a sandwich at some point on my plate anyway.  Whether I have two pieces of potato left and meat, I’ll make it into a sandwich and eat that no matter where I’m at.  There’s a time factor, too.  Our goal has always been to get you in and out before your quarter runs out in the meter.  Other people tell me, “You get me in and out with a healthy sandwich fast.  You get me in and out faster than I would be at the window at McDonalds.”

Dr. Carmen April:
    And it’s healthier than McDonald's!

Zack Maddox:    That's a good way to put it.  We use dairy cream, but at least you can pronounce what’s in it.  The first four ingredients aren’t chemicals that you can’t find anywhere. 

Dr. Carmen April:    On the sandwich that I am eating now, was the bread made here?

Zack Maddox:    The bread was made here, the mayonnaise was made here, the chicken was spiced and cooked here.  Yeah, everything on the plate except the cheese was cooked and made here. 

Dr. Carmen April:    You can really tell the difference.

Zack Maddox:    I think so, I definitely think you can.  Thank you.

Chicken & Provolone Sandwich - Spicy grilled chicken, provolone, grilled red onion, pesto mayo, house made sourdough.

This is one of THE BEST sandwiches I've had in a long time! The sourdough bread is soft and flavorful  - made in-house. The red onion adds just the right amount of kick. I love a nice amount of Mayo on my sandwiches and the fact that this was a good spread of pesto mayo made it 10x better!

Dr. Carmen April:    I have an obsession with French Macaroons and I just walked in here and saw them on the menu.  So yeah, I think I’m going to go crazy over those today!  I also had the green velvet cupcakes the other day.  That was good.  Do you guys play around with the menu for the changing of seasons? 

Gluten Free Chocolate French Macaron - Did I already tell you guys about my secret (well, not so secret anymore) obsession with French Macarons???? I wish I could fly to France and back just to grab an armful (Note: I did not say handful...I meant armful LOL!) of these things :-)

Next best thing....grabbing a handful of French Macarons from Coffee. Lunch. !

Zack Maddox: 
   Yeah, we try to keep up with most stuff.  The menu will be changing very soon and you can get more spring vegetables.  Audra (The pastry Chef) tends to run pretty close along with most of the holidays coming up, so for Mardi Gras, we had king cake.  We were doing the bitchy Valentine hearts, so they looked like a Valentine sweet- but they had really bitchy sayings on it.  Like, “love sucks,” and things like that....We try to have a little fun with it! I find something that sells real well and have her make that.  Most of that stuff, Audra comes up with on her own.  Brittany came up with a lot good ideas and then Khalil has all these other good ideas and it just works!

 Lucky Green Cupcake to celebrate St. Patrick's Day!

Dr. Carmen April:    When you were younger, did you ever imagine that you would be an entrepreneur?  Did you ever imagine that you would have your own shop?

Zack Maddox: 
   I never really thought much about working for anybody else.  I never did, I never have in my entire life.  I got kicked out of the Boy Scouts for talking back!  I’ve always done my own thing.  I had a feeling that I was going to end up working for myself at some point or doing my own thing.

How cute is the outdoor seating?!?

You may enter.....Coffee. Lunch.

I got this shot of myself trying to get a good shot of the door. I had to move around a bit to keep from getting my own reflection in the door but I think this one is kinda cool.....so I'm keeping it!!

Cool Interior!

 Homegirlscout cookie - Shortbread cookie covered in dulce, dipped in chocolate, sprinkled with coconut and made with love! (Khalil really did add the "made with love" piece to the description :-)

 This is like having Thanksgiving Dinner in Sandwich form....YUM! Roast beef, mashed potatoes, cheddar cheese...OMG good!

 I really enjoyed talking with all 4 of the fun folks who make this place work so well! I'm glad I interviewed them before the new Music City Center opens in a month or so. Coffee. Lunch. is located only about a block away from this new Music City Center and even though they are busy now........ I think they are ABOUT TO BLOW UUUUUUUP (said in my comedic Martin Lawrence voice.....LOL!)

You can find Coffee. Lunch online @ www.coffeelunchnashville.com
in person at
300A 10th Ave S
Nashville, TN 37203

- Dr. April

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