Written and Photographed by Barbara King
The Foundry Coffee House, located mere blocks from the downtown Tyler square, is all about forging community and conversation.
Housed in the completely renovated circa 1880’s building on S. Broadway and Elm St., the coffee house is named after the historic wagon wheel foundry that made its home there. The enormous high ceilinged open spaces and lots of varied seating areas make this the perfect place to hunker down to study, commune or simply sip some Java.
It has a bit of a vintage vibe, with the high coffee bar dominating the front of the store, surrounded by bar height stools so you can carry on a conversation with your barista if desired. There are plenty of other cozy nooks and crannies for more private interactions, furnished with leather couches, wood coffee tables and overstuffed foot stools.
Any time of the day or night, people are meeting and greeting folks new on their horizons. At the huge communal table especially designed in wood and steel for the coffee house, you can find bankers and lawyers rubbing shoulders and engaged in conversation with soccer moms and college students.
The Foundry is owned and operated by the downtown Bethel Bible Church, and as Pastor Eric Barton explains, “we wanted to create a communal, neutral space where people could meet between Sundays, and create a space of confluence in the center of downtown.” The coffee house was not designed as a revenue generator for the church, and profits are put back into the general operation of the business.
“We have exceeded our expectations,” explains Pastor Barton, “but more in terms of building community and having people come in and continue to come back. We expect them to enjoy an excellent cup of coffee and to linger and make new connections.”
But what about the coffee? It is sourced locally through the family-owned Tyler Porch Culture roasting company and is sold and brewed in the coffee house. You can get a real bargain with the bottomless cup that will keep you going for $2.50. The Foundry also brews espressos, cappuccinos and Kalita Wave and Chemex pour overs. For tea lovers, there are loose-leaf options and chai teas available. Hot chocolate and Italian sodas round out the beverage selections.
Anybody who is a Foundry fan will tell you that “Friday is pie day.” Fresh pies are brought in from Dallas from Emporium Pies and are served from 12 noon until they are gone. Five different pie selections are featured each week, sporting names like Blue Steel (blueberry pie at it’s finest), Smooth Operator (French silk in a pretzel crust), and Dr. Love (red velvet chess pie). The Foundry also offers a tantalizing selection from Tyler’s own Janie’s Cakes, as well as an assortment of quiche and sandwich selections.
Music is a large part of the Foundry’s reason for being, and the mini stage is the focus for Tuesday open mic night and live music and poetry Thursdays.
Madison Burke, a student at UT Tyler, and Benjamin Chapman, a programmer with local company, Group M7, met at the Foundry and have since become good friends. Benjamin says, “Tyler has needed a place like this for a long time. I originally came to check out the coffee and work, but it has become my place to hang out, meet friends, relax, and listen to great music.”
“There’s no agenda here,” said Madison, “except a warm and welcoming sense of community. We keep coming back to support a place where we want to be. It’s a diverse crowd, and the sounds you hear are laughter and conversation and the sense that you can stay as long as you want.”
Another huge bonus in the Foundry’s favor is that it keeps after office hours and is open most nights after all the offices and such downtown have long closed down.
Outside seating, bike racks and great people-watching make this the place to be. Coupled with the modern, big city ambience, the Foundry is the new bright light in downtown Tyler.
The Foundry Coffee House is located at 202 S. Broadway in downtown Tyler with an adjacent parking lot north of the building or the Fair parking garage across the street. The Foundry is open Monday-Wednesday from 7am til 9pm, Thursday and Friday 7am until 11pm and Sunday from 7am until 2pm. Find them at www.foundry-coffee.com, on Facebook at Facebook.com/thefoundrycoffeehouse or call (903)944-7805.