'A place to feel comfortable'

Beans & Cream general operator Leighann Clifton makes an espresso Friday morning.

For a couple weeks now the inside of Beans & Cream, a new coffee shop at 212 Village Square, has been bustling with activity.

That’s something Beans & Cream general operator Leighann Clifton believes is a good thing, especially for a first-time small business owner like herself.

Clifton described business as “super busy” since a soft opening with a limited menu May 15.

On Friday, Tellico Village Property Owners Association representatives officially welcomed her to the community with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Bean & Cream’s grand opening, which is located behind the Welcome Center.

“The turnout’s been pretty incredible,” Clifton said. “Like I said, it’s been way bigger than what I thought.”

Although Clifton has never owned a business, she is no stranger to running a shop. She served as a manager for a business for 15 years.

“It was just time to follow my passion, follow my dream,” she said. “I’m very passionate about coffee. I’ve been in the coffee industry for about 15 years, so I know a lot about coffee like a lot of people would about wine. I’m that way with coffee. I love it.”

Villagers can stop by for their choice of coffee, ice cream and various types of desserts, which she said with a laugh would “satisfy any craving.” She hopes Beans & Cream will serve as a community meeting spot.

“A place to feel comfortable, to come get delicious handcrafted beverages, delicious ice cream, the pastries are phenomenal,” Clifton said. “I just want it to be a place where people can come and coffee makes people smile, ice cream makes people smile, and so it’s nice to be in the service industry where we can provide that for people.”

Getting a coffee and ice cream shop in Tellico Village is big for the community. POA representatives say it’s something that has been requested for several years.

“In 2015, the HomeOwners Association did a survey and one of the top requests was to have a coffee shop and ice cream,” Joe Bogardus, Tellico Village Business Alliance representative, said. “In 2017, the marketing team did a survey and one of the top requests was for a coffee shop. So then the Tellico Village Business Alliance in January or last year did a survey and again it was the top request for it.”

Bogardus believes the new business fills a void in the Village.

“Before if you wanted ice cream you had to go either to Loudon or to Lenoir City, especially to get hand-dipped, and so now you can go to what’s called ‘Town Center’ and get yourself some coffee and/or ice cream,” Bruce Johnson, POA Board of Directors president, said.

Beans & Cream is open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.