Sitting at a table made of recycled boards inside the newly renovated space in the old Dixie Produce on 12th Street, Pastor of Cultural Engagement and Director of the Camp House Matt Busby explains how Mission Chattanooga unintentionally got into the coffee and cafe business, and how the two businesses will operate in the new space in the Onion Bottom part of town.
"When we opened on Williams Street, someone else was going to run the coffee shop," he said. "We were not going to run a coffee shop."
The church's mission was to be a part of the community and to offer a safe, comfortable space for people to gather, and Busby was brought on shortly after the space opened to run the coffee shop known as the Camp House and to produce programming such as live music and art installations. The coffee shop took on a life of its own, he said. In fact, he soon found himself booking hundreds of events first at the Williams Street location and later at the then-new location on Patten Parkway in the former garage space in the Chubb Building.
"We originally were going to have multiple businesses within the building, but over time we have become known for having the Camp House," Busby said.
They did more than 255 events in 2019 at the Patten Parkway location alone, he said. That is in addition to the church services and other church-related events in the space. In order to better accommodate the growing needs of the church, Mission Chattanooga is moving into the 25,000-square-foot Dixie Produce space, and Busby said plans are to open in the spring, if COVID-19 restrictions allow.
This time, however, Mission Chattanooga is partnering with outside entities to run both the cafe and the coffeeshop. Ian Goodman of Goodman Coffee will begin selling his locally roasted coffee in the coming weeks and Antonio and wife Onteaya Tate of Party Bites are already operating in the kitchen space, offering to-go dishes and catering services.
Tate is also the local franchisee of MrBeast Burger, a ghost or virtual kitchen concept created by 23-year-old online entrepreneur Jimmy Donaldson in 2016 in North Carolina. It is delivery only, with people like Tate using existing kitchens to make burgers, fries and Nashville hot chicken items offered by MrBeast. The meals are then delivered via food delivery apps such as Uber Eats, Door Dash and Grub Hub. Customers who call MrBeast to order theoretically have no idea where the kitchens are, Tate said.
"It doesn't compete with [Party Bites] at all, but rather is a separate thing with different items all together."
While details are still being worked out, Busby said the two businesses will still be under the Mission Chattanooga umbrella and will be known as Goodman Coffee Roasters at the Camp House and Party Bites at the Camp House.
Goodman, Tate and Busby said exact details on how the three will interact, events times, business hours and other details are still being figured out, but each said the arrangement should work to everyone's benefit.
Goodman noted the Onion Bottom area doesn't get a lot of foot traffic, especially now that so many downtown workers are working from home, but he believes the church and the Camp House draw a large loyal crowd.
"Obviously it is a bit of a gamble, but they have a huge following," he said.
"I wanted to be here because of all of the things that the Camp House has done over the years in the community," Goodman said. He also has locations in Warehouse Row and St. Elmo and said that he expects to get customers from the parents of kids who have children in the Mission Chattanooga daycare, as well as church and event attendees, UTC students and downtown workers.
Busby also said the space is available for rent to anyone for things like wedding parties and receptions. Wedding ceremonies, however, are only for church members, he said.
Busby said the church has been holding virtual services each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and lately as the weather has warmed it has held outside services in the courtyard. The main worship/multi-use space lacks some acoustic treatments, but should be ready for use in the coming weeks, he said.
The new space has plenty of free parking and 20,000 square feet has been renovated so far, with another 80,000 square feet of undeveloped space is available for future growth. There are two conference rooms available for private meetings in addition to the main room and a roll-down gate was installed in the main hallway which can allow for separation of the meeting spaces and food and beverage businesses if needed.
There is also an outdoor patio off of the dining area and offices. There is also a preschool, which currently serves as a "mommy's day out" facility, with care available two days a week.
Contact Barry Courter at email@example.com or 423-757-6354.