Perhaps it is a sign of these modern times. Broadway Brewing Company, a new eatery nestled in Southland Books, 801 E. Broadway, Maryville, began with a conversation on the Facebook social network.
Angie Gladson, 30, and Tina Lane, 31, are two moms who have been friends since they were teenagers. They have worked part-time jobs together as they were growing up, but never really thought about opening a business together. Angie is a nurse, and, on her days off, she and Tina would get together to cook and play on the computer, often through Facebook.
“We were playing on Facebook at the kitchen table,” Tina said, “and we ended up chatting with (Southland Book co-owner) Lisa Misosky. Lisa asked if we might be interested in working during the day, and that’s how the whole idea got started.”
Misosky was looking for a new venture after the coffee shop in Southland closed. The restaurant model she was interested in fit well with the ideas that the two friends had.
Broadway Brewing Company was born as an idea in mid-2009. The implementation of that idea was far from a smooth ride.
After looking over the space in Southland, Gladson said initially they thought it would take two weeks to a month and a half to remodel the coffee bar. Next thing they knew, “we gutted the whole place and reconstructed everything,” she said. “It has been hard.” Getting by with a little help from friends definitely applies, said Lane. Friends came to work and paint. They also made some new friends at area do-it-yourself stores.
“There are a lot of things you realize you don’t know anything about,” said Lane, “such as plumbing and flooring. We learned how to put new subfloors down, and we had many conversations with people at Home Depot and Lowes.”
There were also some missteps. A sink they found through Craig’s List was in Asheville, so the two drove up to pick it up.
“We’ve had a real adventure,” Lane said. “All we had was my truck. I have a Dodge 1500, and, at first, we couldn’t get it in the back of my truck because it was so big.”
They finally maneuvered it into the truck, but broke a sprayer.
“We didn’t hesitate, just left,” said Lane. “This transaction wasn’t being done in the safest neighborhood. We wanted out of there. It was creepy.”
Gladson said after that, they found an espresso machine. It didn’t work, so they grabbed the instructions.
“It was old,” said Gladson, “and the instructions were in several languages, just not English. We were going to everybody we knew about the machine. It wouldn’t do shots or espressos. We took the top off it, messed and poked at it.”
They finally got it to work. “It was a matter of pushing the buttons in the right succession and hitting them just right. There is a great deal of sweat and tears in that espresso machine!”
The coffee bar/restaurant occupies about 800 of the building’s 5,000 square feet.
“I have always wanted a bookstore with a coffee shop,” said Lane. “We read constantly, and I don’t get rid of books, so this is very convenient for me to be located here. I’ve got everything I want.”
Their children enjoy working at the restaurant. Tina and her husband, Chris Lane, are the parents of Christine Smith, 12; Cody Lane, 11; and Hope Smith, 11. Angie Gladson is mom to 9-year-old Emilie Gladson.
“They proudly wear what they call their coffee shop jeans because they got paint on them. They love coming in,” Lane said. “You would think during school holidays they wouldn’t want to come sit here, but they love it. They have found lots of treasures on the bookshelves.”
Gladson said their children having such easy access to books has been a benefit. “Their reading grades have come up,” she said.
Gladson comes up with the items on the menu. “She’s always been a creative cook,” said Lane. “As for me? I make beef stew three times a week.”
Gladson said their most popular soup is their Chicken Gnocchi, an Italian potato dumpling soup. “We make everything from scratch,” she said.
The ideas for many of their offerings at Broadway Brewing Company start in one of their homes, where it stays until they get the recipe like they want it. The pair also makes their own bread and pastries. “We’re constantly making sticky buns or cinnamon rolls,” Gladson said.
Gladson said they have good, fresh ingredients for all food. “We have an orange cranberry club that is one of our favorite sandwiches. It has become our most popular sandwich,” she said. “We wanted to do a wrap. A lot of people don’t do bread. We started looking for different ideas for a wrap and trying them out.”
Gladson said they were going to offer some vegetarian sides but haven’t perfected them yet. “We tried garlic humus, but haven’t found one we like. We do soup every day, and Tina always her rosemary garlic chicken salad,” she said.
The pair said they want to keep their menu small. “If we keep our menu small, we can handle it a lot better,” Gladson said, “and everybody is pretty happy.”
Keeping the restaurant clean and maintaining the correct sanitary conditions are also important to them, Lane said. “We’re very proud of the work we’ve done. Having worked in restaurants, we know what you have to do. We know how to maintain sanitary conditions, and at what temperature everything has to be.”
Choosing their coffee also came after much trial and error. Gladson said they took their time picking the two or three coffee flavors they wanted. “It took us the whole time we were remodeling to pick out coffee we liked. We finally were sold on coffee from John Wharton with Jazzberry Coffee,” she said. “He makes it especially for us.”
“We’re the only coffee shop he roasts for,” Lane said. “He makes a house blend that is a very mild blend. We wanted to offer something you would want at home. We fell in love with that one and named it the Broadway Brewing Company blend. We also offer a stronger blend.”
Gladson said they can seat about 10 to 15 people for lunch. There are two sofas with a table in between, an area in front of the bar that seats five and the option to pull other chairs and tables into the coffee shop area, giving it the feel of a living room.
“We didn’t want tables and chairs. We wanted couches and a fireplace,” she said.
The “fireplace” is just for show, to create a homey atmosphere. “It is a light. I tell people to go get warm by the fireplace,” Lane said. “It’s an inside joke to watch people go over there to warm themselves.”
Gladson and Lane said they want folks to feel welcome when they come in the bookstore and coffee shop.
“You’re only a stranger once,” Lane said. “We love making people happy.”
Gladson said friendly people and good food are a good start for a business. “I really just want folks to know we have a good, cozy atmosphere, friendly people and good food,” she said. “You can sit here and eat and not be hurried. Lots of places want to you eat and turn the table to get more customers in and make more profits. Some of our customers stay for hours.”
Lisa Misosky said that when Lane and Gladson made their pitch to her and Southern Studio’s owner Catherine Frye, they were ready with a plan, complete with a model of what the coffee bar/restaurant would look like.
“They brought in the colors they wanted to use in paint colors,” Misosky said. “They made the pitch, and Catherine and I went for it. They had a vision and goal, and they are fulfilling everything they said they would do. Our investment in what they’ve done has been very minimal -- other than letting them borrow occasional power tools.”