How A Veteran Entrepreneur Launched A Coffee Shop During A Pandemic

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Native Nashvillian Edward Gray opened Grams Coffee on July 7, 2020, in Madison, Tennessee, yes, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Edward knows about risk and the value of timing, as he has been an entrepreneur for years. 

So, Edward, what were your first entrepreneurial ventures?

Two past and exciting ventures that come to mind are a cellular/pager store named Total Access. The same location then became a music store. I am currently involved in a few other ventures. 

How did your coffee/tea shop become a reality?

The Grams Coffee brand was born in December 2017 and The Southern V restaurant has been serving our coffee since January 2019. I am a planner, but I am also very sporadic. This time was different. I set about five opening dates (in my mind). You know that feeling you have when something just isn’t right? But as I set this last date, I remember telling a family member, “July 7 is three weeks away, everything is ready, that’s the date!!!”  My relative responded, “Everything has just been waiting on you and your ‘right time’!”

What led you to open a coffee shop in Madison?

I live in the area, and there was a need. Wherever I traveled, I watched, asked the baristas and shop owners questions, and I came home and made it my own. 

What’s the vibe of Grams?  

At Grams, be yourself and be comfortable. If you have an issue, talk here. If you get a promotion, let’s celebrate!. You will always catch me and anyone behind the counter with a smile (even behind the mask).  The quotes you can find on our coffee sleeves are also a part of our vibe and help to lift up each of our customers. They are the inspiration of Dr. Thurman E. Webb, Jr., Centered Person Consulting.

You have a rich menu of teas – why? 

I have been intrigued by the healing power of plants for quite some time. I do not take any medicines. Whenever I have an ailment, I turn to herbs. I enjoy everything about tea – the flavors, feelings, and conversations it stimulates.

Is your menu set? How often will it change? How often will cinnamon rolls be featured? 

We are expanding, but holding off on a few items until the “time is right”. I do not want to overwhelm your eyes and I want to provide quality over quantity [smile]. Cinnamon rolls will be available on Saturdays, and sometimes Wednesdays. It’s a special treat for how hard we’ve worked that week!

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How do most customers find out about Grams?

Many of our family members (customers) have driven past the building since 2016. When we opened, they were very excited for a coffee and tea spot in the neighborhood. We have also received exposure from social media and word of mouth. 

 

What else are you invested in – topics, organizations, interests, passions? 

I am interested in great conversations, not debates, about politics, religion, spirituality, education, sports, and social issues.

What’s next for you? 

There are a few things planned. I’m just waiting on that “right time” to announce them.

 

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