COOKEVILLE – It’s been 20 months since Jeremy and Lauren Crabtree took over operations at Poet’s, the signature Cookeville coffee house located on the Putnam County Courthouse square. And already, the duo is seeing double.
The couple acquired nearby Perk Up from Michael and Nick Hankins on Nov. 16, and last week reopened the small shop on South Jefferson Avenue as Poet’s South.
Lauren Crabtree says they started thinking about expanding in general earlier this year – the couple even toyed with the idea of opening up a breakfast spot. While mere blocks separate the two Poet’s, Perk Up’s existing clientele, location – and a drive-thru – best complimented their current operation.
“We know coffee brings people together, so our hope is that both Poet’s locations would be hometown coffee shops that Cookeville is proud of,” she said.
The Crabtree’s spent several days renovating Poet’s South, which fronts Hobby Lobby; both interior and exterior improvements were made for function and aesthetics.
Poet’s South has new coffee brewing systems, water filtration and grinders. The Crabtree’s also painted the exterior and added barn wood for a different look. Inside, they opened up the floor plan, creating a simplistic, contemporary feel while incorporating Poet’s rustic charm.
“We wanted the two locations to feel different, but similar,” Lauren Crabtree said. “The new location definitely has an intimate feel, with farm tables and wrap-around bar seating.”
She said they’ll continue to serve Perk Up’s popular chicken salad sandwich and wraps, along with muffins, scones and other snacks. There are plans to add more food options in the future – even an online ordering system for quicker drive-thru times. She said 60 percent of the Hankins’ business came via the drive-thru. She hopes to improve that number.
“The former owners had an amazing following. We could not ask for a better situation to walk into,” she said. “(It was a) great fit for what we were looking for.
“Though Perk Up is only a few blocks from the flagship location, we knew this would bring a different crew of people, especially parents that wanted a coffee without having to get their kids out of the car,” she added.
And, for the Crabtree’s, Poet’s South isn’t the only addition planned this year. Jeremy and Lauren are expecting their third child Christmas day.