Ron Burnette

From left, owners Ron Burnette, his daughter, Tori Barrett and her husband, Justin Barrett join the Barretts’ daughter Bella in front of the future business on Main Street in downtown Dallas. 

Downtown Dallas and its historic Main Street are home to colleges, shops, a theater, city government offices, churches – and soon a coffee shop.

East Bound and Grounds is working to open by early April in a space formerly occupied by Grant’s Gatherings and Gifts at 216 Main St.

Tori Barrett and her firefighter husband, Justin, will join her parents, Ron and Annmarie Burnette, to own and operate the business in a 1,000-square-foot space with seating for 25 to 30 a few doors away from Dallas Theater.

The name is a play on the title of the Jerry Reed-penned theme song, “East Bound and Down” from the classic 1970s movie, “Smokey and the Bandit,” said Annmarie Burnette.

However, the new shop will be located in a building that originated almost a century before “Smokey” was released. The owners believe it dates to the 1880s.

Burnette said its interior design and construction would be difficult to alter so they are keeping its multi-room interior intact. The walls are thick plaster rather than the sheetrock so dominant in many modern buildings.

The Barretts have worked in the restaurant industry but never owned such a business – which plans to offer deli-styled food and pastries in addition to coffee, lattes and other hot and cold drinks, Mrs. Barrett said.

They recently documented their trip to Seattle, Washington, to be trained at the Seattle Barista Academy.

Tori Barrett said she and her husband live within walking distance of the shop and wanted to open a business in the city’s historic business center.

“We love the area,” Barrett said.

Burnette said the shop hopes to attract students attending the Kennesaw State University or Georgia Highlands College satellite locations which operate a few blocks away. Students seeking a spot to land between classes can use the shop’s wi-fi, she said.

“There’s really not a place to study in the area,” Burnette said.

The owners also hope it becomes a meeting spot for any number of groups, such as book clubs.

One thing they do not want it to be is a coffee shop that operates like chain shops. It is not intended to resemble them, she said.

“A consultant told us we needed a drive-through window,” Burnette said. “That’s not what we’re going for. We’re hoping it’s cozy and comfortable.”

Dallas Mayor Boyd Austin said city leaders “are always excited about new businesses, and I wish them the best.”

“There should be a ready customer base with the number of college students there, along with others who work and shop in downtown,” he said. 

Austin helped usher in a makeover of the downtown streetscape along Main Street in the early 2000s, and a renovation of the historic Dallas Theater in 2006.

However, the area lost the foot traffic that the county courthouse and government offices generated after both moved to a new building in west Dallas in 2007.

The Dallas mayor also heard and saw other Georgia cities’ experiences with their historic downtown areas during his term on the board of the Georgia Municipal Association.

He said choosing a location in a historic downtown area can be challenging. 

“A business owner must have a good business plan, and know the customers they are trying to reach,” Austin said. 

“I believe downtowns may be more conducive to small, family-owned businesses, as opposed to big shopping centers,” he said. “A downtown affords a business to express its unique personality.”

The owners have shown their progress on their Facebook page and on Instagram at @eastboundandgrounds.

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