Village Porch Café finds new owner, operator
by Matt Shinall
Feb 06, 2011 | 2898 views | 0 0 comments | 778 778 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Owner Jeff Chisolm takes down customer Cidie Wertz's order during a busy lunch hour. Wertz, from Marietta, was visiting the Booth Museum to view the Ansel Adams exhibit. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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After seven years of dutiful operation under the helm of Mike and Dorothy Phillips, downtown Cartersville's Village Porch Café has changed hands to Jeff and Faith Chisolm.

The new owners, once Bartow County residents, have returned to the area to fulfill a lifelong dream of entrepreneurship, specifically with the ownership of a street-side café. During their previous time in the county, the Chisolms found an attraction to downtown Cartersville leading to their eventual purchase of Village Porch Café.

"We had a feel for the city, we loved the city and what took us away from here was we were both corporate America," Chisolm said. "We looked at this place not long after it went up for sale about four or five months ago -- fell in love with it. We knew the area. We knew the type of people that were here and we've always wanted to own a café since day-one when we got married.

"When we came across it, we came and ate here and just fell in love with the ambiance of it so that's kind of what made us move on it and that's why we're here today."

While the menu will stay fairly unchanged, the Chisolms will replace ice cream from their offerings with gourmet coffee, fresh pastries and free wireless Internet. The biggest alteration however will arrive this spring as the Chisolms have planned to change the eatery's name to Wall Street Café. The name change should be done in time for an independent film scheduled to begin shooting on the location in April.

Self-described as "old-school," Chisolm said he and his wife are students of an older era and hope to bring some of those qualities to the restaurant.

"We're just very simple people, we're very outgoing, we love to deal with people in the sense of just standing behind the counter and chatting it up. That's the way we are. We looked at several cafés but we didn't want anything big. We wanted a very small cafe because we're not all about the money, obviously we need to make a living, but we're more about serving the community," he said. "It's going to be a real quaint cafe feeling that you can come have coffee, a piece of cake or a pastry and you've got [free] Wifi for those that want to get hooked up to the net."

Along with some changes in food, diners can expect to hear a different tune as the new owners plan to introduce a touch of personal expression by adding background music from the likes of Frank Sinatra and standards from the big band era.

Having spent his career in corporate telecommunications, Jeff Chisolm is excited to enter the field of business ownership. He has found inspiration for leadership from the influences in his past and hopes to create a family atmosphere among the restaurant staff.

"The thing I'm interested in is developing employee relationships. I don't want to be the boss I just came from, and I was with that company for nine years. I want it to be a family feeling that you can come to me with whatever. I want to be the boss that says 'I'm there for you.' You just don't get that in corporate America," Chisolm said.

Mike Phillips has manned the grill since he took over but now looks forward to cooking up his personal catch of the day. Although Mike and Dorothy Phillips are both helping family members cope with health-related issues, they will be working less and hope to fully retire in the near future to spend more time fishing and camping.

With 50 years of culinary experience from working with his dad at Krystal to serving as a cook in the army, Mike Phillips plans to continue with restaurant consulting as he has done in the past. After his military service, Phillips helped start up a number of restaurants including Spanky's on River Street in Savannah where he eventually became part-owner.

Phillips has enjoyed a varied career, after leaving Spanky's due to ethical dilemmas and differing opinions on business direction, he spent seven years attaining the title of master craftsman in pipe fitting and welding before making his way to Cartersville. Mike Phillips compared he and his wife's decision to purchase the restaurant to that of Chisolms'.

"[Dorothy and I] decided we wanted to do something together and we did exactly what Jeff did actually. We got out and started looking in small towns for a little place to open up, I was actually hunting a little pizza place," Mike Phillips said. "It's been a blast, we've had a lot of fun here. We have a good following. There's a lot of good folks in Cartersville."

Village Porch is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 25 N. Wall St. in Cartersville. For more information call 770-386-3100.