The Factory at Franklin: Guide to the Best Day Ever
The Factory at Franklin is a local treasure and national landmark just a hop, skip, and jump from historic Main Street. First a little history lesson on the place, The Factory was once, as you might have guessed, a working stove factory constructed in 1929. In 1996, local visionary, Calvin Leyew, rescued the sprawling structure from demolition and began preserving much of the rustic architecture, turning it into a gathering place for locals, a venue for special events, and a unique opportunity for folks to shop and dine locally. In 2012 a new owner took over, who brought a renewed vision for The Factory to become home to more local dining options. Pro Tip: If you’re traveling with children, this is a fantastic outlet to let them run the vast hallways, get a scoop of ice cream, and of course, a cup of fabulous coffee for mom and dad!
The Factory is home to some of Franklin’s most prized local eateries. The first and maybe most famous Franklin hot spot is the delightful, Five Daughters Bakery. Locals will remember waiting in long lines at what started as a pop-up shop on the weekends for a glorious creation known as the 100 layer donut. Five Daughters began with a couple and their five young daughters with a passion for the highest quality baking and bringing the community together. Nowadays, people are still drooling as they patiently wait at the adorable storefront located in The Factory for the classics such as the Vanilla Cream and Chocolate Sea Salt as well as seasonal delights like Lucy’s Lemonade Donut. In case you’re wondering if Five Daughters truly lives up to the hype, I can tell you from experience, sinking your teeth into a 100 layer donut will be the best part of your day.
To balance out the butter and sugar, head over to Franklin Juice Co., for arguably the best Acai Bowl in town, my personal favorite, a work of art, known as the BomBom bowl is made with acai, granola, cacao powder, sliced bananas, strawberries, almonds, and honey. Don’t forget to ask for the natural peanut butter add in to boost the protein. For a lighter refreshment, try one of their many cold-pressed juice options such as “Sing,” which includes spinach, kale, green apple, and lemon juices or an immunity-boosting shot made from ginger, lemon, and cayenne.
For a world-class cup of coffee or cappuccino, be sure to stop by Honest Coffee Roasters. Many of the local coffee shops around town actually use Honest Coffee Roasters coffee, since they roast some of the finest coffee beans from around the world right inside the shop. One of the owners, Brett Henry, says “Honest has become a place for the community to come and be inspired by the way we approach our craft with such care, excellence, and transparency.” You can see even more about Honest Roasters in our guide to local coffee here.
One of my go-to lunch or casual dinner spots is also located within The Factory. Mojo’s Tacos is a crowd favorite, dishing out fresh and innovative tacos with a Tennessee twist. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the Korean Cauliflower Taco made with fried cauliflower, doused in Gochujang Sauce, and Mojo Sauce, topped with ginger slaw and toasted sesame seeds. Just trust me on this one, my mouth is watering at the thought of this tortilla full of goodness! For a Tennessee influenced taco, go for the Hot Chicken Taco, topped with Chipotle slaw and Poblano sauce. Wash that spice down with a Maine Root Blueberry Soda or one of Mojo’s house-made Margaritas.
Top off those savory tacos with a treat from Jeni’s Ice Cream, which is the reason behind the tantalizing, sweet smell of warm waffle cones permeating the entire Factory. It’s quite a conundrum choosing between Jeni’s splendid flavors such as Gooey Butter Cake, Pistachio and Honey, and Brambleberry Crisp. Thank the good Lord; there are endless samples and pints available to purchase!
After you have sipped and nibbled your way through The Factory, its time to peruse the delightful art and local shops throughout this fun space. Find a Tennessee souvenir and support local makers at the Made in TN shop. You won’t find generic touristy t-shirts and shot glasses here; instead, you’ll discover beautiful, locally-made Dear Mushka Jewelry, Sweet Tea Candle Co candles, and Strawberry Jajalpeno jam from The Nashville Jam Co.
A newer addition to the facility is the Fork of the South General Store, where you will be hard-pressed to walk away empty-handed. The southern gifts and knick-knacks found here make this the ideal store for testing locally made hand cream, finding your perfect southern-inspired candle, and snagging adorable gifts for any new babies and children in your life. Fork of the South is the spot to treat yourself with a little “happy,” as my mother-in-law would say.
Art is also a big part of the fabric of the Factory, housing several stunning art galleries. Stonebridge Art Gallery is one of the original tenants, with a variety of affordable, original art as well as an in house framing studio. If you have friends or family in Franklin, you might have caught a glimpse of the unique work from local lady, Deann Herbert, featured here at the Deann Art Studio. Deann has described her style as painting with layers reminiscent of tree bark or peeling barn paint, with a muted color palette.
If all of this art inspiration has got your own creative juices flowing, bring out your inner artist at Third Coast Clay. This locally owned and operated business is open on a walk-in basis for a relaxing and fun family-friendly activity. Patrons can choose from a vast selection of “raw clay” to paint, from coffee mugs to modern animal figurines. Third Coast Clay believes that spending creative time with friends and family is time well spent, not to mention you will come home with a darling memento from your trip to The Factory. If you’re traveling, Third Coast Clay will ship your masterpiece right to your home for a small fee.
Beyond the shops and restaurants, The Factory also hosts a community Farmer’s Market year-round on Saturday mornings. This large market features local produce, meats, and homemade snacks galore, as well as fresh smoothies and breakfast burritos from a variety of food trucks. A paper sack of hot donuts from Ellie’s Old Fashioned Doughnuts sure does make for a sweet Saturday morning! The Farmer’s Market is full of fun finds in the winter, In the warmer months, there is often live entertainment from local musicians for folks to enjoy while shopping and nibbling their way through the market.
Of course, the places featured here are not comprehensive of all that The Factory has to offer, but I hope that this will serve as a window into the treasure that is The Factory. It’s a meeting place and cozy venue for locals and visitors alike. Whether you’re stopping by for a fabulous lunch and tasty treat or seeing a world-class production put on by Studio Tenn also hosted at The Factory, this is a must-visit spot during your stay in Franklin!