The LaFayette-Walker County Library has partnered with local vendor Hatter's Coffee and Tea in order to open a coffee shop within the library, set to open Jan. 5.
Initially, Hatter's Coffee and Tea will operate during the same hours as the library and will offer an assortment of hot teas and a range of hot and cold coffee options, mostly using beans from Chattanooga Coffee Company.
Cherokee Regional Library System Director Lecia Eubanks said the goal behind the addition is two-pronged.
"If they come in for coffee and see what the library has to offer, then I think we're going to get some new library users out of this," she said. "In addition to that, it's just a service to our existing users and patrons to make their library experience even more enjoyable."
The library was renovated in 2015 and the project included plans for a coffee shop. However, library administration decided to temporarily use the space as a hospitality room to allow for the time needed to properly plan for the unique new addition.
They put out a request for a proposal in August 2017 to determine a vendor, and although they received only one response, administration believed the applicant would be the perfect fit, Eubanks said.
"We only needed one, and we had a really good one," she said. "We met with this vendor and looked at their concept for the area, we looked at their logo, business plan for the space, and we agreed to sign a one-year lease to kind of take this first year as a trial. We've never done anything like this, and we're hoping it's going to be successful, and confident that it will be."
This will be Hatter's Coffee and Tea's first location — though owner Ryan Lewis believes it won't be his last. The local tea and coffee enthusiast sees this as a potential trend for other libraries in the area.
"We hope to open up a few more of these," Lewis said. "So the idea is different library directors will request a coffee shop and I will bring a coffee shop, hopefully, that creates foot traffic for the library and the coffee shop."
At the LaFayette-Walker County Library, Hatter's Coffee and Tea will operate in a space that measures approximately 300 square feet located in the corridor of the community room. This location in the library will allow the small business to open and close outside of library hours in the future if desired.
The coffee shop will also potentially work with other local businesses in the future to offer items such as pastries and sandwiches, said Lewis.
"The menu is going to evolve, but as far as the tentative menu goes, we're just going for really good coffee," he said.
Contact Sarah Turner at 423-757-6579