Carol Davidson and son Brent Davidson activate the cold brew drip coffee maker at Coffee House on 5th in downtown Columbus Monday. After two combat tours in Iraq, Brent returned to his roots to team up with his mom in the recently-opened endeavor. Photo by: Kelly Tippett/Dispatch Staff
May 2, 2012 2:25:52 PM
BY JAN SWOOPE
This upcoming Mother's Day takes on special meaning for Brent Davidson and his mom, Carol Davidson. Since recently deciding to team up commercially, they've made new discoveries about each other and added a fresh dimension to their already-strong bond.
The mother-son team opened Coffee House on 5th in March. They each devote their time and talents to the specialty java shop and eatery located at 111 Fifth St. N., next to Trotter Convention Center in downtown Columbus. The joint endeavor signifies, as Paul Simon might sing, a "mother and child reunion." It brought 26-year-old Brent back to the family's Mississippi fold, after several years in the U.S. Army and two combat tours in Iraq.
Brent, a 2004 Heritage Academy graduate, and his mom, a teacher of fourth- and fifth-grade gifted students at New Hope Elementary School, sat at an intimate table in the shop Monday, sharing insight into their collaboration and balance of strengths.
First things first
Why a coffee house? To start with, both appreciate excellent coffee, describing it as "one of the finer things in life."
"You can take coffee as far as you want to, in terms of becoming a real connoisseur," observed Brent.
Once the decision was made, remodeling began in August 2011 on the building, which is owned by Carol's husband, Gregg Davidson. (The location was once the site of an "old Columbus" landmark restaurant. The Davidsons preserved the original floor tiles at the entrance, spelling out "The Bell Cafe.")
Designing everything from kitchen to seating areas was a joint effort.
"We took our time, putting it together piece by piece," commented Carol. "We wanted to be sure each decision was the right one."
Brent, in particular, visited numerous roasteries and coffee shops in different regions of the country, "looking and talking, absorbing the environment."
"I've tasted sooo many coffees," he grinned.
Having traveled in almost every U.S. state and several foreign countries, the young businessman enjoys finding the out-of-the-ordinary. That penchant is reflected in the shop, in offerings such as cold press coffee, Vietnamese coffee, pour-over coffee and "bubble tea." He expects to soon host tastings and demonstrations of how specific brews, such as Ethiopian coffee, are made.
"There are so many varieties and ways to brew it ... it's fun to find ways to bring out the best characteristics of each one," he said.
A baker and potter, Carol brings her own talents to the table. She makes the homemade sweet potato muffins, sausage muffins, cookies, quiches and soups served daily. Her favorite recipes come from a spiral notebook she began compiling in high school and still uses today. She also crafts the stoneware mugs the shop's coffee is often served in.
Details -- like fresh-baked bread from a Mennonite bakery in West Point for their sandwiches, to the mood of the background music -- matter to both mother and son.
"We complement each other in many ways," remarked the quiet-spoken Carol. "I love to visit with customers, but Brent is a real people person; he enjoys the social aspect, meeting people."
"And she's the kitchen lady," her son gently teased, bragging on his mom's culinary skill.
In a sense, every day is Mother's Day for Brent now. And while being in business together may not work for every family, the Davidsons begin from a strong foundation.
Carol explained, "Brent and I have always had an honest and open relationship." ("A real relationship," her son interjected.)
She continued, "We can tell each other anything, discuss things and come to conclusions."
They agree that patience, understanding and compromise are elemental to any good partnership, whether at home or in business.
Brent emphasized, "You have to step outside yourself and view things from each other's viewpoints."
Working together has been revealing.
"I've seen my mother in a different light now," remarked Brent. "It has really shown me her work ethic, how strong a person she is to be able to do as many thing as she does, and do them well."
From a mom's perspective, Carol has delighted in seeing her son emerge as an entrepreneur.
"It's been wonderful seeing him take the lead role, being a good businessman in dealing with our suppliers, employees and customers. ... He has a good head on his shoulders," she smiled, gently tapping Brent on the knee. "We make a good team."
ON THE WEB:
CAROL DAVIDSON'S BEST EVER BROWNIES
3/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
Sift flour, salt and baking powder together. Cream butter until soft and smooth. Add sugar gradually and cream until fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Blend in chocolate and vanilla and dry ingredients and beat until well blended. Spoon into a greased and floured eight-by-eight-inch pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.