Dreaming in Brick and Mortar Introducing the face behind ShelbyKY’s newest coffee shop
“Rachel, come eat lunch with us in my classroom!” That’s the warm welcome I got from Bobbi Caranna my first day on the job at Shelby County High School. Now, seven months (and plenty of lunches) later, Bobbi is extending her hospitality to all of Shelby County by opening Simpsonville’s newest coffee shop and boutique, Brick and Mortar.
“I always said that when I opened my shop, I would want a building--a brick and mortar shop as the saying goes--where people can touch the item and have a face-to-face conversation with the owner,” Bobbi shared the day after the shop’s grand opening (March 23). And that’s exactly what Bobbi and her husband Jon did.
It was only Brick and Mortar’s first day open to downtown Simpsonville, but from our cozy window seat with two steaming drip coffees between us, my friend and I agreed: Bobbi’s dream for tangible connection and conversation was already becoming a reality. “It was so beautiful,” Bobbi reflects. “The sound of laughter and the smell of coffee filled the air. My family, my friends, my church, and my community together. I think that’s what a coffee shop does. It provides a place to gather.”
After 3 years of calling Simpsonville home herself, Bobbi knows what makes Simpsonville a place to “stay a while.” “I’m one of the people who did not grow up here, but I want my daughter to. We love it here so much that we moved to Florida and came back after two years. The entire county is special. I’ve lived all over the country and there is nothing like the rolling hills, the fog, the sunrise, and the horses running. Simpsonville is cozy.”
I knew Bobbi loved our town, but I still wondered what empowered Bobbi to put teaching on hold for a semester to follow one of her lifelong dreams.
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“I have a supportive husband who takes ideas and puts them into action,” Bobbi explained. “I work at a school where that administration supports me. I have students who rooted me on every day and even gave me ideas. I have friends and a church family who watched my daughter every Saturday for months while my husband and I went to the farmers market to sell coffee and spread the word. And I live in a town that really wanted this.”
But one sure thing is that Brick and Mortar’s doors aren’t open exclusively to locals, but to new faces and out-of-town visitors as well. “I think people coming into the area for the outlet mall can now come into our cozy little downtown and find the charm of small-town life, with coffee, gifts, and local finds.”
Local finds like a one-of-a-kind menu of simple, fresh food provided by coffee roasters, bakers, and farmers from right here in the bluegrass. And that’s just the beginning. Bobbi is bursting with ideas for what Brick and Mortar will bring to the community in the upcoming year. “We have plans to build outdoor seating and have live music on Fridays and Saturdays. Additionally, I’ve connected with a lot of makers to have classes. Whether it be candle making, floral design, or calligraphy, you don’t have to go into the city to get a good cup of coffee, find the perfect gift, and have a good time.”