Gibson’s Café was named Small Business of the Year by the Macon County Chamber of Commerce at their annual fundraiser banquet this week.
Gibson’s offers a fresh breakfast and lunch menu of sandwiches, soups, and salads, with an alternating dinner menu on Friday, the one night a week they are open. Run by Miles and Ginger Gibson, the restaurant has been situated on the square since the Gibsons bought the dilapidated former post office in 2005. The duo came to Macon County after they lost Miles’ Dad, brother, and brother-in-law to cancer—all in the same month.
“My mom moved here,” said Miles, “and I didn’t want her to live by herself, so we moved here.
“When my brother was sick, down in Florida—my mom would send me real estate magazines. And one day I was over there and my brother cut out a little bitty picture of this building. It was from the Times—and he said ‘you need to go to Tennessee and buy this building.’
“So when we came up for the funeral—the funeral was up here—after the funeral I left to go find that building. And I’d never been on the square before, I didn’t even know there was a square. So I looked at it, I went and got Ginger, and we looked at it—and bought it.”
The building boasted a long history. In addition to serving as the post office and a hotel, at different times, the building was the scene of “a couple murders,” according to the Gibsons.
The top floor was a tattoo parlor. The bottom floor consisted of a dress shop, the office of a music promoter, an abandoned section. The top floor also contained rental apartments.
“We came here to retire and just play music and paint and ride our bikes,” said Ginger, “and none of that happened—and fish, we did fish for a little bit, that was fun.” Miles had been a master plumber in his former life, and Ginger was a developer for Duncan Donuts and Baskin Robbins, as well as a restaurant owner for 7-8 years.”
The two decided to open up a coffee shop in the building. “I couldn’t get at cup of tea anywhere in town,” said Ginger. “Whenever I asked for tea, they’d take iced tea and microwave it. So we decided to open up a coffee shop.”
The menu slowly built on itself, while they were still in the development stages, and in the six-month process of moving themselves up here from Florida. “We just felt we should offer a lighter fare. And then, when I did the menu, I was like ‘well you gotta have this; you gotta have that.’ We were doing the menu as we moved up here, once a month, and we would travel with a notebook and I’d write things in it.”
“We both retired from our jobs to move up here,” said Ginger. “And they called me back in like thirty days, and I said ‘no, I’m not coming back, I’m not coming back’. So I said to Miles, I said ‘how long will it take you to build the restaurant?’ And he said ‘Six months,’ so I told them I’d do a few more jobs. I went back, and three years later, he was done. It’s funny, they had a fifty dollar bet that I’d be back.”
Ginger was responsible for developing/building every single Duncan Donuts in Nashville—“They never had Duncan Donuts in Nashville before she came,” said Miles. There are now locations in Smyrna, Dickson, Goodlettsville, Hendersonville, and Gallatin, to name a few.
In the meantime, Miles took the place down to the original brick, installed all new plumbing and electricity, and we connected the whole bottom floor. “I pulled 1,000 nails out of that floor with a pair of pliers,” he said. The top floor, where they live, is now a 12-room apartment, which they’re just putting the finishing touches on now. “Out of all of it,” said Miles, “we’re most proud of this building.”
They opened on Memorial Day Weekend. “I had just got off the plane,” said Ginger, “and Miles called me and said ‘we need to open!’ and I said ‘okay…’ and he said ‘no, we need to open! I’m done!’ So that weekend I ran and got supplies, and my brother Joey came, and we opened! He was just so excited to be done.”
Soon people were commenting regularly that they wanted Gibson’s open in the evening—so they began to offer a dinner menu every Friday night, featuring more seafood and meat dishes than in the lighter lunch hours. They currently employ four people, in addition to Miles and Ginger: Joseph Riley, Jennifer Davis, Melanie Knight, and Mikayla Sexton.
Their award from the Chamber is now displayed neatly on the bar counter. Next time you stop by the 2012 Small Business of the Year, take a gander.