Editor’s Note: This is the first installment in a series looking at the “regulars” of the Corner Cup, who hang their mugs on the establishment’s wall in Jonesborough.
By Collin Brooks
Jonesborough is living up to it’s billing as “the storytelling capital of the world,” and a corner coffee shop in Tennessee’s oldest town is also sticking to it’s namesake as Jonesborough’s living room.
Coming with the space at the Corner Coffee Shop, includes a wall of their most frequent patron’s mugs, whose stories are visible with the cast and carvings hanging on the hook.
The Corner Cup’s owner is Deb Kruse, a military veteran who retired to Jonesborough from the Washington D.C. area. Kruse, like many, fell in love with Jonesborough and decided to stay, noting it was similar to the town in Wyoming where she grew up.
The coffee shop idea came after hearing a similar complaint she’d heard, Jonesborough needed a coffee shop.
“I was retired and I decided to go ahead and open a coffee shop,” Kruse said.
However, her cast of characters is what defines the Corner Cup’s character. Placed on a wall, just behind the counter, clearly visible, but unreachable, hang the cups of the regulars.
People that you will meet in coming series, like Don Burger and Gordon Edwards, whose mugs hang as a symbol of themselves, customized with their own creative touch.
That wall, like Kruse’s relocation to Jonesborough, just happened naturally.
“I’m not sure where we came up with that idea,” Kruse said through a smile, “except we opened the shop on a shoe-string budget and I did not have a lot of money to buy mugs. So we just thought, the locals could bring in their mugs and that would save me from buying mugs.”
But that cost cutting measure has become a creative way to spark a conversation.
“Jonesborough is the storytelling capital of the world and all of the mugs have stories,” Kruse said. “It is a source of conversation and a lot of people want to come in and buy the mugs and then maybe they’ll start to talk about a mug they have a story about.”
Kruse doesn’t have a mug hanging on the wall, but has a certain place on her counter top for a few mugs. And she gets a lot of use out of them too. Besides being a coffee shop owner, she is also a coffee-lover, so even if she didn’t own it, she said she would be a regular.
“I don’t have to be there the amount of time that I am there, because I have great employees, but it is such a cool place to hang out and just sit and talk to people,” she said. “And people love to come in and look around and they start asking questions.”
The coffee shop is sure to see an increase in traffic with the festival season starting in the historic town, but it’s the locals that Kruse really wants to please.
“It’s a unique little place and the town has been really been supportive of it,” Kruse said, noting they only closed their doors two days last year.
The response didn’t surprise Kruse, it merely confirmed her theory of the quiet, quaint town. The reception of the mug wall has caught her a bit off guard, but she hopes to be adding to the cast of mugs and characters, once another wall of mugs can be added.