Robin Davis is co-owner with Jennifer Starks of Homegrown Taproom & Marketplace. With the Donelson-based business having recently opened, Post Managing Editor William Williams sat down with Davis to get her thoughts.
Homegrown Taproom & Marketplace is both a taproom and a market. How will the two co-exist?
The home for Homegrown is located in Donelson Plaza on Old Lebanon Road, and we were fortunate enough to have found a space with two side-by-side suites available. The two suites will serve as home to the taproom and marketplace, respectively, with outdoor entrances from the sidewalk for each, as well as a door inside between the two spaces for convenience. We imagine our customers will stop in for a bite of lunch or dinner and wander next door into the marketplace for a few grocery essentials on their way out, or perhaps even run in for a gallon of milk and pick up a growler of beer from the taproom at the same time. Later this fall when the marketplace is in full swing, we’ll also offer our sandwiches, salads and other foods made in-house as grab-and-go convenience items in the market. Many of the products offered in the marketplace will also be used in our recipes/dishes that we serve in the taproom. It’s the perfect marriage of the two concepts — local food in the market and local food on our menu. We have big future plans of growing our own food on our own farm.
Michael Moranski, your chef, most recently worked at Flyte. And Jessie Norman, your GM, comes from Barlines in the Omni. While fine establishments, neither offers, on paper, much similarity to Homegrown. Comments?
The key to any great business is a good idea paired with passion. But the way to ensure the success of a business is to find highly talented and qualified team members to help bring your dreams to life. Mike and Jessie are just the people who can do that.
Chef Mike has spent his culinary career creating unique local dishes and his design of Homegrown’s menu is no exception. He knows how to take a simple recipe and add a pop of unexpected flavor that has diners asking for more. Jessie has worked in many bars/restaurants, both small and large, where she was expected to keep all the balls in the air on busy, crowded nights. And she’ll do that for us at Homegrown too. We have 70 seats, 24 draft beers, a creative menu and a hard-working team, and she knows how to orchestrate all those elements so that our guests have a great experience.
In addition to their knowledge and extensive experience, Jessie and Mike are both Donelson residents. Like us, they also want to build something awesome in their own community, and Homegrown offers them a place to apply their expertise with the kind of creative freedom and input that you just can’t get in larger organizations.
What percentage of your grocery items are local and/or packaged and/or natural/organic?
The marketplace will be stocked with 100 percent local and regional (Southeast) products. It’s much like an indoor farmers’ market. We’ll carry eggs, milk, cheese, meat (fresh and frozen), and both traditional and organic produce. We’ll also carry some locally made packaged products like Ousley Ouch salsa and Sunday Morning Pancake Mix. Some of our purveyors include Porter Road Butcher, Groves Family Dairy, Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese, Noble Springs Dairy, Walker Produce and Green Door Gourmet.
Your beer menu is mainly Southeast focused. What will be your strategy for rotating the beer offerings?
That is by design and what Homegrown is all about—providing access to the best local and regional products around. Homegrown as a whole is an answer to a demand/need for the Donelson community, and our beer rotations will follow that same strategy. We will be listening to our customers, social media networks and community members on what they want to see on tap next. We are definitely dedicated to featuring our local Nashville breweries, such as Yazoo, Little Harpeth and Black Abbey, as well as regional favorites like Good People, Highland Brewing and Calfkiller. Occasionally, we’ll also feature some beers not brewed in the Southeast on our “Tourist Taps.” We’ll ask our neighbors and guests to vote on them, so that will be a lot of fun.
Where did you get the idea to operate this type business — which many folks would associate with being found in a more urban setting — in a suburban locale? Did you visit a similar place in the suburb of another city? I assume your approach is that Donelson has lots of residents who want non-mainstream retail located near their homes.
Our idea for Homegrown came about because we live in Donelson, and we want it. And we’re not the only ones. The HIP Donelson Farmers’ Market is one of the largest and most attended seasonal markets in middle Tennessee with thousands of shoppers every week. East Nashville is the closest opportunity for Donelson residents to get a good selection of craft beers. And although it’s only a 15-minute drive, it’s still a drive across the river. There’s a misconception that Donelson is far away, but we’re only 15 minutes away from downtown if you shoot straight down [Lebanon Pike/Hermitage Avenue/First Avenue]. We’re a Nashville neighborhood, not a suburb. We’ve got beautiful, established neighborhoods with big trees, large yards, and still (but going fast) affordable houses. Those residents that have gotten priced out of East Nashville, Inglewood and 12South are moving to Donelson, and they want, and deserve, the same kind of quality food and beer that you can get in those other Nashville neighborhoods.
I understand you might eventually offer, for example, some craft beer-oriented events that will have an informative and/or educational theme. Thoughts?
Yes! Homegrown is a craft beer advocate looking to expand the appeal of craft beer by offering tastings and classes that inform customers about beer flavors and styles. If you have not tried craft beer yet, then we invite you to come on in, and we will help you find something that you will love. We intend to offer great events such as signature beer dinners and brunches, as well as educational Craft Beer 101 classes. Our grand opening festivities are set to take place Oct. 1-4, and we will have some fun announcements about our events and classes at that point.
CBRE has promoted Eric Deems to sales manager for the Nashville market.
According to a release, Deems (pictured) will continue to work directly with Managing Director Stephen Kulinski. His goals will include increasing strategic opportunities and expanding market share for CBRE’s sales professionals.
Previously, Deems served CBRE for two years as senior business analyst for the Nashville market.
Prior to joining CBRE, Deems worked with multi-family and retail development teams to secure real estate projects in several U.S. markets. He also once worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. consulting with corporate entities, political campaigns and non-profit organizations.
Deems earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in organizational strategy and a Bachelor of Science degree in political science, both from Belmont University.
“Eric has been pivotal in working towards our goal of achieving operational excellence, and I know he will bring the same dedication and focus to his new, expanded role,” Kulinski said in the release.
POSTDATA: WARRANTY DEEDS