Cherry Street Eatery & Sweetery at the Schermerhorn
Cherry Street Eatery & Sweetery at the Schermerhorn
Healthy, scratch-made lunch by day, elegant confections for concert goers by night, in the exquisite Schermerhorn Symphony Center.
Healthy, scratch-made lunch by day, elegant confections for concert goers by night, in the exquisite Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Read more
About this project
It started with a biscuit
For those of you who don't know me, here's a little backstory.
In 2002, it was clear that there was a growing demand for simple, healthy, thoughtfully prepared breakfast and lunch food in East Nashville. I already had proven success as the exclusive provider of grab-and-go food for the neighborhood natural food store-selling out of sandwiches nearly every day-and as the hostess of a weekly pop-up brunch at Bongo Java East. With the support of a burgeoning community of people who appreciated creative food made with fresh ingredients, Red Wagon Café was born. But then, so too, was dear, sweet Henry, our son. At the outset of restaurant ownership, I knew I might eventually choose motherhood instead. And at the end of my 5-year lease, I did just that. I did so knowing that there could always be another restaurant, but that I only had one chance to spend that time with Henry.
In that five years, Red Wagon garnered a great deal of critical acclaim, with appearances in Southern Living, Cooking Light, Food and Wine, Travel+Leisure, and USA Today. We also had the distinction of being voted “Best Brunch” and “Best Caterer” several times in the Nashville Scene Best of Nashville Awards. I am proud to say I was a pioneer in East Nashville and in the “farm to table” movement, buying produce, eggs and cheese from local, organic CSA farmers well before the word “locavore” became part of the vernacular. We had very loyal fans, many of whom waited in line for hours every weekend just to eat my biscuits. Nearly every day someone tells me that they miss Red Wagon. I'm a lucky girl.
An unbelievable opportunity
Now, I have always said there would be another chance for me to own a restaurant, right?
A little more than a month ago, a friend asked if I was ready to open another restaurant. This friend happens to work for the Nashville Symphony. She thought I might be interested to know about an opportunity, one that seemed tailor-made for me. I was all ears.
The Schermerhorn Symphony Center, in a recent effort to reduce their budget, closed its food service operations, leaving vacant the beautiful Symphony Café, but they wanted to continue serving food to their patrons. We had a meeting. We had a tasting. I crunched some numbers. We had a deal.
They offered me the opportunity to take over the café, to run it as an independent restaurant. One reason they chose me over other candidates is because I could act quickly, and by quickly I mean get it open in a week, in time for the opening of the symphony season.
And I did it.
Cherry Street is open for coffee, pastries, and lunch Monday-Friday, from 8am-2pm, and for every event on the Schermerhorn concert schedule.
Because this opportunity came about so quickly, I was able to open the door on September 5th, but I am under-capitalized. I will need a boost from friends, old and new, to ensure that I can sustain the business through the critical first six months. By donating, you would play a crucial role in that support system.
The good news is that it won't take much. The amount I hope to raise, $8500, will cover licenses, fees, insurance, the purchase of some small equipment, and stocking the pantry and staffing the café. There is no build-out, no contractors, no major equipment or furnishings to buy.
The Plan (and it is simple)
My plan is to build on my previous success to create something which is at once new and familiar. The menu is the same kind of healthy, scratch-made soups, sandwiches and baked goods that made Red Wagon popular, only now I am serving the downtown business community, Schermerhorn concert goers, and the many visitors who make Nashville their destination. I use local and sustainable ingredients when possible, showcasing local farms and makers like Drew's Brews, Wolfe Gourmet Cakes, Kenny's Farmhouse Cheeses, and Dozen Bakery.
Cherry Street Eatery & Sweetery is situated in the epicenter of the SoBro development explosion. With the new Nashville City Center, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum expansion, plans for an amphitheater, and all the highrises and hotels newly built or under construction, it will not be difficult to drive business into Cherry Street. I have a built-in customer base with the staff, musicians, and patrons of the symphony. We have received great press, and I have already seen a steady increase in walk-in customers, including many old Red Wagon fans.
I am also working with symphony staff to develop more daytime programming that will promote Cherry Street and the symphony; lunchtime concerts, and a monthly Sunday brunch featuring live music are just a couple of ideas.
A chance to do good
It is important to me that Cherry Street not only serves food, but that it also serves the community in a meaningful way. I am partnering with Magdalene House/Thistle Farms to offer employment to graduates of their program.
Risks and challenges
Of course, any restaurant project holds its risks. I can confidently say that in my career, I have experienced most of them. That means I have the troubleshooting skills to handle just about anything. This project is uniquely low-risk, very little overhead, no build-out, practically a turn-key operation. Even my accountant thinks it's a great opportunity.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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