So you’ve operated a successful olive oil shop, wine club and independent coffee house in downtown Cartersville for over three years. What do you do for a follow-up?
For local entrepreneur Jennifer Smith, the answer is obvious: beer and doughnuts.
After running Southern Muggs Coffee Shop and Olive Tree and Vine alongside her husband Mark since spring 2016, Smith said she now has plans to open up two more businesses in and around the downtown Cartersville area: a craft beer boutique, complete with a “speakeasy” motif, and a handcrafted doughnut shop with a far-out, 1960s-inspired theme.
“We’re not thinking Grateful Dead, we’re thinking peace, love and donuts — although that’s taken and we couldn’t use that,” Smith said with a chuckle.
Laying the groundwork for “Hippie Donuts” has been considerably easier than bringing the speakeasy concept, which would be included inside the Smiths’ current business at 26 West Main St., to fruition. In fact, Smith has been waiting more than a year and a half for the City of Cartersville to cross all their t's and dot all their i’s on an ordinance amendment that would allow her shop to sell craft beers.
“It’s been a very interesting insight into small city government, just because their timeline and a small business owner’s timeline are very different,” she said. “What’s a long time to us is not a long time to government … September 2017 was when it was first proposed that they wanted to write a new ordinance, that was when we first applied.”
But with that alcohol ordinance amendment — which would allow onsite consumption and package sales of certain malt beverages at “specialty wine shops” within the City’s Downtown Business District (DBD) — approved by the Cartersville City Council at Thursday’s meeting, Smith now has the legal go-ahead to begin the paperwork process on what she’s tentatively dubbed “The Hat Shop.”
At this juncture, she said she’s optimistic that both the “speakeasy” and the new doughnut venture — which will be outside of the downtown Cartersville district — will be operational by early fall.
Which, naturally, raises the question: Now that she’s Cartersville’s undisputed olive oil/wine club/coffee shop/craft beer speakeasy/doughnut shop mogul, is there any other sector Smith wants to add to her ever-growing local business footprint?
“Not yet,” the 52-year-old businesswoman said with a hearty laugh.
Name: Jennifer Smith
Current City: Cartersville
Daily Tribune News: To begin, can you give us a quick overview of your current businesses?
Jennifer Smith: Olive Tree and Vine is separate from Southern Muggs, so we have olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and we’ve done weekly wine tastings for just about three years with the wine club. We’ve wanted to do beer as well, it just took a little while.
DTN: What’s the plan for craft beer sales moving forward?
JS: Our plan is really loose right now. Our idea is the storage room; we’re going to clean that out and that will be the beer room, and we’re thinking of trying to open it as a “speakeasy” style. So it will be open to the wine area, but also separate. The ordinance is craft-only, what we planned anyway, so we want to find some of the more obscure craft beers that aren’t available everywhere else. … We’re thinking the name of it might be "The Hat Shop."
DTN: What’s it been like preparing for the “speakeasy” addition to your business model?
JS: In Georgia, you have to go through a distributorship. Everything is through distributors, so we’ve already got relationships with all the distributors and they’ve been waiting for us to have beer. We’ve got a special wine tasting coming up, so [one distributor] is also going to be bringing some beers to sample — for us, not for the wine-tasting [patrons]. They deal with a lot of small craft companies, so we’re excited.
DTN: Are there any particular brewers you are eying for a partnership?
JS: We like all the local ones, but we want to go regional at the very least. But there are some very good ones in the Northeast and the Midwest and the Northwest. It’s exciting to think about how many different options we can have.
DTN: Do you have any thoughts on some of the proposals for microbreweries in the downtown Cartersville area?
JS: I think it’s all good for downtown. It’ll be a lot of fun to have more reasons for people to come downtown, more things to do, more things to see. I think the fact that we haven’t had a craft brewery downtown puts us behind a lot of other small towns in the area.
DTN: What’s the strategy for operating three wholly separate — and very distinct — businesses under the same roof?
JS: There is a lot of blending at the same time as there is keeping them separate. We do a lot of cross-training with all our employees, so that they can cover all the different areas. We try to limit it to the ones who are going to be comfortable with serving alcohol — of age, obviously — but it’s more about community and family, so it’s finding the right people who will keep what we really want to maintain.
DTN: Do you have a timetable in place for when the new business may open?
JS: Hopefully by Labor Day. It would be great if it was sooner — we’ll probably start serving beer before we can implement the whole speakeasy idea.
DTN: What makes the craft beer component so appealing, from a business perspective?
JS: My hope is that it will bring more couples together, because there’s a lot of people where one likes wine and one likes beer and the beer person wants to go out for a beer whereas the wine person is happy coming here for a wine. So it shortens people’s opportunities to just enjoy having a glass of wine and forces them to go somewhere else — so having more people together will be good, I think.
DTN: What are your business plans for outside the downtown Cartersville area?
JS: Our next venture is we’re looking at a doughnut shop — not in the DBD district, but it’ll be close by — so that’ll be more incorporated into Southern Muggs than beer and wine. They’re all kind of hinging on each other because the storage room will become where the beer’s going to go, so the storage room has to go somewhere. So we’re looking at a storage space as well as just incorporating a new business. It’s sort of like when you start redoing your kitchen, you know? You think "I want new cabinets," and then you end up with everything.
DTN: What are your branding plans for the new doughnut shop?
JS: When we were trying to come up with coffee shop names, one of them was "Laissez-faire." We hadn’t even selected a space yet, and Mark was convinced nobody would have any idea what that meant, which would not be good for a coffee shop. The name of the doughnut shop is going to be "Hippie Donuts." We’ve been playing with ideas for logos. We really, really want to use the hippie idea as much as possible — I just think color and fun and different.
DTN: And lastly, what’s your favorite thing about running so many different businesses in the Bartow community?
JS: I obviously like talking to people, so it’s always great to get to know the people, and that made us move here. So that's maybe up there — it made us residents.