A few times a month, I stop by Republic Coffee for breakfast and a cup of black coffee. Their smoked tofu is quite incredible, especially on a bagel with eggs. My friend swears by their waffles. He gets one every single time we go, with a side of thick-sliced bacon.
This is a coffee shop with a past. First, the much-loved original location in Midtown closed four years ago. Then, the coffee shop re-opened at its current location at 2924 Walnut Grove last spring. And then finally, in June of this year, the shop changed owners. Fitz Dearmore is the new manager, and besides having his hands in several projects/investments throughout the city, he has some enthusiastic ideas for the future of Republic.
His focus is all about community. In addition to doing “Free Coffee Fridays,” where a $2 donation toward a specific charity gets customers a free cup of coffee, he is also looking into possibly purchasing the lot next door to Republic.
“My plan is to put in a park, a parking lot for the Greenline, a recycling center, and a community garden,” he said.
Other things are changing, too, including the familiar skeleton logo. It will soon be replaced by a top hat. The old pool table room in the back is now a meeting/event space. The space is available on a first-come, first-serve basis, or customers can reserve it, as long as they commit to $200 of catering.
Hungry Memphis had a few questions for Fitz.
How did you get started in the coffee business?
A few months after my wife and I moved to Memphis, she came home and said, “There is no good coffee in Memphis. You should do something about it.” I wanted to make my wife happy — isn’t that what every guy should do? — so I started pursuing it.
What makes Republic different from other coffee shops in Memphis?
Our focus is really on serving our customers a great cup of coffee and reaching out to the community around us. Each coffee shop in Memphis has its own unique vibe, so I don’t really feel like we compete with any other shops. In fact, we buy some of our baked goods from Café Eclectic.
How many varieties of coffee does Republic offer?
We roast five varieties locally. Another 20 come from my roasting facility in New Orleans. We don’t sell coffee that’s more than a week old. I’m hoping to move some of the roasting equipment up from New Orleans, so more varieties of coffee can be roasted right here in Memphis.
Tell me about the new Stuffed French Toast on your menu.
It’s a household recipe from a woman who owns a café in Los Angeles. We introduced it to see if people would like it, and it was a huge hit. We like to mix it up, so we rotate through different flavors like strawberry, cinnamon pear, cinnamon peach, and banana/peanut butter.