Jean O’Connor-Snyder intern Brin Allen tells the story of two cousins meeting a local need while creating a welcoming community space through their small business.
The town of Collinsville, Alabama, is the home of several restaurants whose menus boast items made to remind you of home. Food in Collinsville is the source of Southern comfort, tradition, and togetherness. People gather regularly in restaurants and homes to celebrate and fellowship with their neighbors and friends.
In January 2021, cousins Amanda Godshall and Amber Womack saw an opportunity to bring a new kind of restaurant to Collinsville. Originally from Sand Rock, both women had previous restaurant and business experience along with an appreciation for the unique character of the Collinsville area.
In what Womack describes as a “leap of faith for this town,” they opened Twin Peaks Nutrition a shop making and selling dietary supplements and teas, a niche previously unmet in the area.
They maintained this business model for several months, but their customer base remained inconsistent. That is until September of the same year, when they began integrating food into their menu.
After seeing the success of this change, they completely reimagined their business. Combining Godshall’s passion for food and Womack’s experience as a barista, they put together a unique menu specifically adapted to the community. Their new restaurant was named Caroline’s Cafe after their great-great-great-grandmother.
While making new investments in the middle of their first year was daunting, they found that the people of Collinsville embraced both them and their business. “The heart of the community is honestly so amazing,” Womack said.
Their new menu boasts daily specials, a variety of sandwiches and salads, bakery items, gourmet popsicles and a host of coffees and specialty drinks. With several popular espresso drinks and a fan-favorite chicken salad, Caroline’s Cafe is making a good impression and is unlike any of the other restaurants in town.
The cousins found word of mouth to be their best form of marketing, and they also maintain a consistent social media presence announcing events and daily specials. The restaurant hosts an open mic night on the last Saturday of every month, which Womack and Godshall hope will continue to grow and attract more musicians and performers.
In addition to changing the menu to adapt to the current season and what items are most popular, they plan to expand the menu to accommodate those with food allergies or dietary restrictions to further meet the needs of their customers.
Around lunch time, a wide variety of people and families come in to see what is on the menu that particular day. People eat and order drinks, conversing with the other patrons and Godshall and Womack. With 50 to 80 sales a day, the after-school hours are their busiest time.
Although it seems to stand out among the other restaurants in Collinsville, Womack and Godshall have created a place that bonds together the traditional nature of the town with their lifelong passions. In Womack’s words, “It looks different for Collinsville more than it is different.”
For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/Carolines-Cafe-111539431290402
Brin Allen is a sophomore at Auburn University majoring in history and psychology. As a Living Democracy JOIP intern, she serves in Collinsville alongside community partner Jennifer Wilkins, head librarian at the Collinsville Public Library.