How One Business Owner's Love of Restoration Is Propelling Nashville's Coffee Scene
We see auto shops and drug stores, but Andy Mumma sees coffee shops.
You might find yourself in Nashville, Tennessee for any number of reasons––a bachelorette party, a country show at the Grand Ole Opry, or a food crawl through some of the city’s most exciting new restaurants, like Henrietta Red, Folk, and Café Roze. Any one of those activities requires a solid caffeine supply, and whether you’re in Germantown or downtown Nashville, chances are, you’ll stop into one of Andy Mumma’s coffee shops to get your fix.
When Mumma opened the first location of Barista Parlor in a sprawling old auto shop in East Nashville back in 2011, he says he was driven by the desire to carve out a niche for how he felt coffee should ideally taste and be presented. With exposed brick walls, chemex drips that look positively scientific, and vintage prints with anchors, race cars, and motorcycles to boot, Barista Parlor is less about creating another hipster coffee shop, and more about emphasizing a sense of place in a building with a former life. Since opening that location, Mumma says it has been especially rewarding to watch people come in and drink more high-quality black coffee, especially because many customers’ palates are more accustomed to sweeter, lighter roasts.
While palates have evolved, Barista Parlor has, too––in 2018, Mumma opened a new concept inside of the historic Noelle hotel in downtown Nashville. When the original hotel (called Noel Place) first opened its doors in 1930, it housed a number of retail spaces on its street level, including a barber shop, salon, diner, a drug store, and a coffee shop; Mumma’s venture, fittingly called Drug Store Coffee, preserves the history of that space in an updated, modern way. “You drink with all your senses, so if you’re in a space that’s hitting all of those, you’ll come back, you’ll feel inspired, and hopefully have a better day because of it,” he says. “I’m able to create these huge experiences in 3,000-4000 square feet spaces, and it just wouldn’t be possible in cities where real estate is more expensive.”
For Drug Store Coffee, Mumma paired up with Nick Dryden, founder of local design and architecture firm D|AAD. “I love old buildings, and all my Barista Parlors are adaptive reuse projects,” Mumma says. “I’ve never been in a building downtown and I’ve never been in a hotel so with Nick Dryden as an architect and other local friends involved it just felt like the right project.”
Dryden says he intends to continue to bring Mumma’s specific brand of adaptive reuse and high-quality coffee to other cities, like Birmingham. “I have a personal interest in adding to a former building’s narrative, and thinking of it truly as a continuum,” he says. “We’re not preservationists by any means, but I think that in a city like Nashville that has so much interesting history but also at the same time is going through a pretty accelerated growth spurt, it’s easy to overlook a lot of the fabric and history and just sort of forge forward. But it’s interesting when you can include a building and its history in that dialogue.”