“Franklin won’t grow exponentially to become the epicenter of Tennessee, but it is growing,” says Isaac Meek, who co-owns Five Daughters Bakery with wife Stephanie. Five Daughters has one of their three area locations inside The Factory at Franklin, a destination that Isaac calls “a hidden gem.” But The Factory at Franklin is a secret more people are becoming privy to — and Isaac and Stephanie are one of the reasons why.
Five Daughters opened at The Factory in November 2015, and it wasn’t long until lines ran out the door, patrons in pursuit of their amazing baked goods. But it isn’t just donuts that make The Factory at Franklin a destination. The Factory spans more than 300,000 square feet and is comprised of 10 historic structures that today house more than 40 stores, restaurants and offices — all of which make up a community. “Community lives and thrives here,” Isaac shares.
I was welcomed into the community by The Factory’s General Manager David Pack. “There are businesses that launched in The Factory or came to The Factory in the early stages of their business growth,” he says of the tenant list. “It is a strong interest of ours to support locally made, locally owned, locally managed and creative entrepreneurial businesses.” The store owners themselves are steering the vision of the mixed-use development, their entrepreneurial endeavors enticing both locals and tourists looking to come shop and eat. Longtime tenants, such as Artisan Guitars, Deann studio*gallery and Third Coast Clay continue to flourish among the newer tenants.
About The Factory
Let’s start with a few facts about the long life of The Factory. Built in 1929, The Factory was home to Dortch Stove Works, Magic Chef and the Jamison Bedding Company. In 1996, the property was recognized by the National Register of Historic Places, and thanks to Calvin Lehew, who purchased and renovated the buildings, the soul of the original Factory was preserved. In 2012, the campus was again purchased and revitalized to become the space it is today. “I’ve always admired The Factory for its rich history and beautiful architecture,” founder of Franklin Juice Co. Brett Henry shares. “For nearly 90 years, The Factory has been a community staple, a center for production and place for local employment. I love that we can carry out that same mission many years later. The building itself has charm and character, which makes it a great environment for creating unique businesses. As an entrepreneur, I’ve found the Factory’s combination of local history and original aesthetics to be very creative and inspiring.
“Another reason I love the Factory is its location,” he continues. “While I enjoy going into Nashville, it’s nice to be able to experience exceptional food and beverage options without making the drive into the city. Franklin seems to have a slower pace of life, which is refreshing.”
The Factory sits on the corner of Franklin Road and Liberty Pike, across from The Park at Harlinsdale Farm, which is home to The Pilgrimage Festival — all only a mile from downtown Franklin’s charming Main Street. Here’s what to expect on a visit to The Factory.
Food at The Factory at Franklin
Barely awake, visitors of The Factory can choose to start their day in three places: Five Daughters Bakery, Franklin Juice Co. and Honest Coffee Roasters. As mentioned, Five Daughters Bakery garnered a cult following for their buttery pastries — namely, the donut. An elevated version of the breakfast favorite, Five Daughters’s donuts are comprised of 100 layers — a concept that marries the donut and croissant. As sweet as their donuts are, the family behind the business is the recipe for success. Isaac and Stephanie, along with their five daughters, are Franklin natives. The Factory became the starting point for the business, which now has locations in 12South, East Nashville, Seaside, FL and Huntsville, AL. What made The Factory the ideal place to set up shop? “For us, a huge part was meeting David, but also knowing Brett and (his wife) Charity. We saw how much they loved it here, and we saw the culture they were helping to create,” Isaac shares. “Being a part of this has been really special to us.”
“The layout of the Factory provides the perfect setup for a strong, collaborative community,” Brett adds, echoing Isaac’s sentiments. “All of the stores are so close together that it’s easy to build relationships with the other tenants. I love sitting down and getting to know the other business owners, who each have such creative, high-quality products to offer. Seeing their passion encourages me to work hard and be an excellent steward of my business.”
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Brett built his business on a passion for organic ingredients. While fresh-pressed juices are the backbone of the business, it was açaí bowls that brought Franklin Juice Co. into the breakfast routines of (seemingly) just about every Nashvillian. “We started at a time when there were no juice companies in Franklin,” he shares. Back in 2013, Brett was selling juice subscriptions from a car. “David gave us a chance; he really took a shot on us. The Factory was a launchpad for our first brick-and-mortar store, and we couldn’t have chosen a better home for our flagship location. David has been a major resource and has given a lot of support and encouragement to me. He comes from an entrepreneurial background and understands the multi-faceted components of launching a business. The Factory has been an incredible place to grow, and Franklin Juice Co. is honored to be part of the building’s larger story.”
And juice was only the beginning. Brett added Honest Coffee Roasters to his portfolio of businesses in early 2015. “Menu options at Honest Coffee Roasters are wholly focused on the flavor of the beans, and drinks are prepared with precision by a highly skilled barista team. While waiting for your cup, there is a beautiful Kees van der Westen Spirit espresso machine and station for pour-over coffee preparation to marvel at,” Emily Arno wrote when telling the story of Honest Coffee Roasters following their opening.
Mojo’s Tacos offers another story of growth. This story starts with a food truck that set up shop outside The Factory months prior to opening Mojo’s Tacos restaurant, which soft opened last week. Replacing well-loved Saffire, Mojo’s Tacos is a fast-casual taco joint. Upon entering, co-owner Travis Anderson assured us the menu will mirror that of the food truck, with a few additions. The tacos are served with handmade tortillas and are filled with everything from Korean cauliflower to ground beef. Although the fried chicken is a personal favorite for Travis, he gives a nod to the brisket and fried avocado (fan favorites). All tacos are available “puffy” style, meaning the tortilla is fried and therefore fluffy. After dinner, don’t miss the house-made paletas. We swear by the coconut.
Well-loved pizza place Mafiaoza’s expanded to Franklin last year and has been slinging pies ever since. If you are familiar with their 12South location, you will feel right at home in Franklin. The 10,000-square-foot restaurant is designed to accommodate everything from date night to dinner with the family. Additionally, outdoor spaces make it easy to enjoy the warm weather.
Last but not least in the lineup of eateries: Carnivore Meat Company. Virginia and SJ Botha started with 500 square feet in downtown Franklin before relocating to The Factory in 2016. “We needed to expand, and we liked the idea of being in a place with more synergy,” Virginia explains. At Carnivore, you can order a sandwich stacked with brisket, provolone, savory slaw and sweet barbecue sauce for lunch and take home a hand-cut, dry-aged steak for dinner. The latter is their specialty — that, along with biltong, a dried meat common to South Africa, from where SJ hails and where he and Virginia met. Thinly shaved, dried beef steak (essentially), biltong contains more fat than your typical jerky. And it is delicious!
For a full list of restaurants at The Factory, click here.
Merchants at The Factory at Franklin
The list of merchants is long and getting longer. The newest tenants, The Blockhouse and Franklin Forge, have yet to open their doors, but come June, The Blockhouse will bring an experience that goes beyond your typical barbershop. Of course, you can get your haircut. More surprising, you can also grab a seat at the full-service bar. Franklin Forge is a blacksmith that will occupy a small structure adjacent to The Factory’s main building. Until the June opening of these two businesses, the dozens of other businesses will keep you entertained.
“Franklin’s cool, hip folks are likely to be found hanging at Luna Records and Honest Coffee Roasters,” Matthew Maxey of Visit Franklin shares. Luna Record Shop is undoubtedly the coolest spot in The Factory, all thanks to co-owners Brenna Gentry and Calvert Gentry McMahan. Fourth generation Franklin natives and sisters, Brenna and Calvert have curated a selection of new and used vinyl, cassettes, audio and music-inspired gifts. The diverse selection caters to their diverse clientele. “The Factory is home to mom-and-pop shops and is a great place to start a business,” Calvert attests. “We see tourists, but we also have a large regular following.”
Across the way from the record shop, Lucky Scruff sells hand-crafted beard care products. Neighboring this new business, Deann studio*gallery showcases paintings that embody the stories and rich history of the South. A long-time tenant and just one of many art galleries in The Factory, Deann is inspired by the South and has been influenced by the setting of her studio. Art and antiques abound at The Factory. A culinary and creative destination, The Factory is also a destination for those who appreciate adding something special to their interiors. CR-71 and City Farmhouse are expert curators of furniture and decor that would be right at home in a contemporary farmhouse.
Made in TN is a resource for locally made gifts. Since their opening last November, it has been the go-to spot for all things Tennessee. “We loved the idea of having a gift shop for all things locally made in Tennessee right in the heart of Franklin because we know that this community values local and handcrafted goods, and the Factory draws a lot of people from out of town, too, that we knew would be interested in a taste of Tennessee,” owner Ilex Pounders says. “The Factory is going through a growth and revitalization phase right now, and we feel fortunate to be on the front edge of that and look forward to continued growth with the rest of the community there.”
“The thing we love most about The Factory is the incredible history there, but second to that is the kind of people who it draws. The Farmers Market, regular events, indoor space for meeting up with friends and the variety of retailers make The Factory a place that draws in a lot of genuinely wonderful people. From locals who meet friends for a coffee to families that come together for ice cream to out-of-town guests who came to have a famous 100-layer donut, we can always count on family-friendly faces and plenty of people who love what we’re doing at Made in TN,” Ilex continues.
For a full list of merchants, click here.
Franklin Farmers Market at The Factory at Franklin
Year round, local farmers bring their fresh produce and locally produced goods to the Franklin Farmers Market. Held every Saturday at The Factory, the farmers’ market abides by a “grow it, raise it, make it or bake it” policy. Meaning, not only are you getting the freshest options around, but you get to meet the folks responsible for them. Meet the farmers, support local and learn about your food. In addition to about two dozen farmers, you will find food and drink vendors and artisans selling everything from homemade soap to pottery.
Spend the day at The Factory at Franklin to see all it has to offer!
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