Contributing Writer, Kyle Packard
When you combine savory coffee with delicious crepes, you’re in for an addictive combination. That’s exactly what Brad Hartman thought in August of 2014 in the heart of Traveler’s Rest. Tandem Creperie and Coffeehouse was born.
Stepping through the front door, customers instantly smell the subtle but present aroma of handcrafted coffee blended with both sweet and savory crepes. Sunlight streams like a waterfall through the windows, illuminating the foot-worn hardwood floor and reflecting off the vibrant, yellow chairs and room decor that accent the room and make the aesthetics so pleasing.
Located on Main Street, in the center of downtown Traveler’s Rest, Tandem is a place that brings people together and fosters an environment for friendly conversation and hearty laughter.
“Our emphasis is ‘together is best.’ We focus on great coffee, great food and our team working together to provide a great experience for our customers to enjoy,” said co-owner Brad Hartman.
Hartman and his wife, Kristen, co-operate the store. Before the foundation of Tandem, he was a member of the Air Force and his wife was a nurse.
Hartman said, “On a trip to Seattle, we discovered specialty coffee and that hobby quickly grew into a passion. My wife has always loved cooking. We both love hospitality. We decided that our love of hospitality, culinary and great coffee could make a great business.”
Thus, the dream of Tandem was born.
“We had a lot of crepe and coffee parties for our friends,” Hartman added.
Just as Apple Inc. began in a garage in California, Tandem had humble beginnings in the warm comfort of close friends, an element that still thrives today.
In August 2014, Hartman put the dream of owning a coffeehouse and crepe shop to action.
“Our building was abandoned for seven years before we saw it and decided it was exactly what we were looking for. With no real restaurant experience, we were planning on running a quiet little coffee and crepe shop,” Hartman said.
But Tandem has never been quiet. It’s lively throughout the day, and especially popular during the Saturday lunch hour.
Hartman said, “It has been a huge learning curve, but we are so thankful for the reception Tandem has had and the team of people that have made it work.”
A unique aspect of Tandem is its diverse menu of crepes, which aren’t particularly commonplace in the Greenville area, especially when coupled with coffee.
Hartman said, “It’s a common misconception that crepes are only French. I actually first discovered them from street vendors in Greece, but you can also find them in Jewish, Chinese, Romanian and many other cultures. We really love the uniqueness and universality of crepes.”
Hartman said he believes in making every effort to provide the freshest products made with the freshest ingredients, not only in coffee, but also in crepes.
“At Tandem, all the coffee is made fresh to order, with a lot of attention to detail. We wanted our culinary offerings to have the same level of freshness and specialty and felt like crepes were a good fit,” Hartman said.
Besides crepes, one of Tandem’s crowning features that sets it apart from other coffeehouses is the name itself. The word “tandem” refers to a bike made for more than one rider, exemplifying the togetherness that Tandem fosters.
Hartman said, “When we were going through all kinds of names for our vision, we randomly saw a picture of a Tandem bike. It really struck us that the tandem bike perfectly exemplifies togetherness.”
Cyclists can frequently be seen at Tandem, as it is a hot spot for grabbing a quick cup of coffee or meeting up with other cyclists while on a morning ride.
Hartman said he believes in the philosophy that “together is best.
“Originally I think it meant my wife and I, crepes and coffee, and the community we hoped to build around those things. The incredible reception Tandem has had has really blown us away. We couldn’t have made Tandem work in the early days without a lot of help from friends and family,” Hartman said.
From coffee and food pairing specials to the staff splitting tips evenly, Hartman focuses on learning, growing and coming together in ways that flow through the entire business.
In addition, the cherry on top of the unity Tandem brings the area is its coffee. Counter Culture Coffee, one of the largest coffee bean distributors in the U.S., supplies their carefully roasted, fresh beans to Tandem. Tandem specializes in brewing pour-over coffee, Americano espresso, lattes, loose-leaf tea and handcrafted sodas.
A returning patron, Forrest Keefer, said, “Tandem has found that perfect mixture of coffee shop and restaurant. It provides a third space away from work and the home by being both a casual environment and offering full meal options. The staff is very amiable and knowledgeable. I always feel comfortable and welcomed when I walk in the door.”
Tandem Creperie and Coffeehouse is located on Main Street in Traveler’s Rest. It’s open every day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.