Pop’s Coffee: Follow Your Dreams

by | Apr 2024

THE GREATEST legacy a parent leaves behind is sometimes the dreams they help their children achieve long after they’ve taken their last breath. Since she was a little girl, Beth Price dreamed of following her dad’s footsteps into the exciting and sometimes unknown world of owning a business. James Howard Price was Beth’s dad. Known as “Jim” to his friends, his grandchildren lovingly called him “Pop.” Born in Konnarock, Virginia, in 1935, during the turbulent years of the Great Depression, Pop wasn’t a stranger to putting in more than a full day’s work. From a young age, he and his older sisters helped their parents pay the bills. Even though he was a bright student, Pop left school after the eighth grade to work in a paper mill before taking a job in an iron ore mine in Morgantown, Pennsylvania. In 1955, a girl named Marion stole his heart, and 12 years after they said, “I do,” they’d added four sons and their daughter, Beth, to their family.

In the late 1960s, Pop and Marion started “Prices Mower Shop,” where he repaired chain saws, weed eaters, blowers, and lawn mowers in their garage. All the while, Pop clocked long hours in the mines for Bethlehem Steel. When the mine went bankrupt a decade later, Pop packed up his family and brought them to Tennessee to take a job in the Gordonsville Mine. 

As someone who was always searching for ways to better support those he loved, he quickly opened another small engine business in Cookeville while — you guessed it — still working full time in the mine.

The years ebbed by, and doctors diagnosed Pop with mesothelioma, and symptoms of dementia began robbing his wife, Marion, of her memories. Beth grew up watching the sacrifices they had made for their family, so now that her parents were the ones who needed looking after, Beth knew what she had to do. Pop bought a home in Lebanon with enough room for all three of them, and, in turn, Beth would contribute toward their mortgage.

On Sept. 9, 2017, less than two years later, Pop passed away. While combing through her dad’s important papers, Beth tearfully discovered he’d figured out a way to continue caring for her now that he was gone. “Follow your dreams,” the note from Pop said. Turns out, he’d stashed most of the money she thought he was putting toward the mortgage, saving it for her instead. 

Seventeen months later, Pop’s Coffee Shop opened its doors. For decades, this quaint Victorian cottage at 517 W. Main St. has been a sanctuary for strong women, each leaving behind a legacy of strength and independence. From the Hardison sisters, Sara and Madge, who defied societal norms in the early 1900s by remaining unmarried, to Mrs. Vicie May Brown Edwards, the first female in Lebanon to receive a business license, Beth is following in their footsteps.

Patrons of Pop’s Coffee Shop say the home boasts “old-world charm and modern food” as they gather in view of the original colorfully tiled fireplaces and oversized windows or meander about on the covered front porch that invites guests to come and sit a spell. 

“Most everything we sell is made right here in our kitchen,” said Beth. “Most of the recipes we use are either Mom’s, Grandmom’s, or my mamaw’s, with a few thrown in from friends and relatives. My mom, Marion, was Pennsylvania Dutch and an awesome cook and baker. Eighty percent of my recipes are hers. We also have ‘Sarges Banana Muffin,’ that is named after my son-in-law, Brent, who is a staff sergeant in the military. ‘Kim’s Southern Delight’ is named after a friend of mine. It has the sweetness of Southern sweet tea and is made with coffee, extra caramel, and lots of cream. Mom used to say, ‘It’s made with love; therefore, the calories don’t count.’” 

Each time Beth whips up her favorite chicken salad recipe and adds generous dollops to a flaky, buttery croissant, she’s living the dream Pop helped her to achieve. Although a flood washed Pop’s note and several pictures from inside Beth’s storage shed down the creek, she’ll never forget Pop’s words from beyond the grave. 

“My fondest memory of Pop growing up was when he would gather all five of us kids around his rocking chair before bed. He would read from the Bible, and we’d all pray together as a family.” GN 

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