Keeping Fondren Caffeinated: Kristy Buchanan & The Bean
All over the world, coffeehouses fuel creativity, conversation, and community.
At Fondren's The Bean, Kristy Buchanan and her team of baristas are filling a gap with not only locally-roasted coffee but small plates, pastries, cocktails, craft beer, courtyard concerts, and more.
"I lived in Brooklyn, New York for three years. My family and I have lived in New York, North Carolina, Georgia, and Ocean Springs. In all those cities, everywhere had coffee shops that had rotating functions throughout the day," Kristy said. "It was still a coffeehouse, but it would also have a cafe and offer wine and dessert at night. When we moved to Jackson, we saw a renaissance happening in the food world and wanted to be a part of creating something that we felt didn't exist here."
With the support of several business leaders in the neighborhood, Kristy took over the Sneaky Beans space and the community they had already cultivated and amplified it, turning it into the ultimate neighborhood gathering spot that's inclusive of all ages and interests.
"Starting out in education and counseling, and also being a mother of young children, it was always important to me to provide a space for moms and kids [here]," Kristy said. "That was one of the best parts of coffee spots in Brooklyn. It would sometimes be too cold for kids to play outside, so they would host singalongs or other activities. My husband and I could get a babysitter and go back to the same place that night for dessert and wine. It was one space with so many different ways to utilize it, and it inspired our concept at The Bean."
Storytime on Tuesdays at 9 am has become a standby for local moms, taking place in the recently-added courtyard when the weather's nice. Another regularly scheduled courtyard event that's taken off is Songwriter Night, where local artists perform originals under the stars. With chillier temps on the rise, there are plenty of outdoor heaters to stay warm and enjoy the show. Trivia Night is also huge for The Bean, with large crowds packing the indoor and outdoor spaces.
"Our Songwriter Night is one of my favorite things that we do here," Kristy said. "Our goal is to continue to grow it because it's a great opportunity for people to see what we're doing and come try a new cocktail or wine while hanging out and listening to local talent. It's like our own Nashville night, right in Jackson."
With a recent return from The New York Coffee Festival, Kristy and her staff are trying their hand at some new techniques and additional flavors on their seaonsal coffee and cocktail menus.
Whether supporting her staff or paving the way for more female entrepreneurs, Kristy notes that the people surrounding her keep her pushing forward."I feel very blessed to have been given the opportunity to do this and to be a woman in business," Kristy said.
"But as for blazing a trail or thinking about it from that standpoint, that doesn't occur to me. If you're going to create a brand, business, or anything, it's making sure you have a strong team to work alongside you and feel like they have ownership. I want everybody that works here to feel like this is their place to grow and thrive."