I lived here in Nashville 20 years ago and while many things have changed, a few iconic elements have remained. One of them is Bread & Company, a local artisanal bread store started in 1992 and the focus of a major student project I did while in business school.
Unlike much of my two years at Owen, I remember this project vividly because of many factors, the main one being my amusement of watching what bored rich people did with their time and money. The owners were wives of local businessmen, and yes, at that point of my life I was making a harsh judgement of people that were not like me. Personal growth opportunities aside, the project gave me great exposure to small business and in retrospect, whetted my appetite for small business that I would satiate later on in life.
I remember being proud when I returned to Nashville and saw that the original store had grown into a local chain with five locations. It had grown beyond just artisanal bread and became a full service restaurant with sandwiches, salads and desserts.
However, my first visit to the store was disappointing. Unorganized, poor service, and unfocused, it seemed to do nothing well. My experience was not unique and in the past two years they have contracted to only two locations.
This week I was greeted with the news that it has been bought. That is the natural cycle of local businesses, and if I do my math right, the original owners are likely in their 70s, probably uninterested in the time and energy required to keep a retail restaurant going. I believe one of the sons took over, and my guess is that he wanted to move on to something else. Another one bites the dust.