In a small town like Maryville, any kind of new creative space opening is an occasion for excitement. Hannah Harper is a local with a passion for the arts. She moved away for college, majoring in Studio Art at East Tennessee State University. After getting her degree, she came back to Maryville and worked at Vienna Coffee House and Studio 212. Both jobs fueled her drive to work in the arts.
With tons of support from friends and family, she decided to pursue her true goal: helping build the “growing creative community” in Maryville. Harper reports having always known that she would become an entrepreneur. She only needed to find the confidence to take such a big leap. Hammie’s Sammies started selling at local retailers in 2018, and now they’re building their own café.
Although her original hope was to sell ice cream sandwiches, homemade macarons seemed to fit her theme even better. She did have some troubles getting started. The world-wide pandemic hit everyone hard—especially small business owners. Harper’s business was no exception.
She also had a hard time finding a kitchen large enough to do her baking. She actually rented out the kitchen at Vienna Coffee House for quite some time before she was able to build her own space. In 2020, she was able to rent out a house and build her first kitchen, which let Hammie’s Sammies expand and start to sell wholesale.
Her art café will optimistically open in December of this year, but if not, it will open in early 2023. The café will sell a very unique sweet treat. French macarons are a sandwich cookie that are notoriously difficult to make. It’s a multiple hour-long process that often takes a substantial amount of time to truly master. As someone who always loved doing things with her hands, Harper has found many parallels between painting and baking, and she has made the transition very gracefully.
The café will house the work of local artists, possibly have an open mic, and maybe even an event space to host art shows. Harper’s main hope is to support local makers and provide a new space for the art community. Community support is a common thread throughout her business. Many of her ingredients are locally sourced or come from other small businesses.
The name of the new building has yet to be revealed, though the name she is currently continuing to work under is Hammie’s Sammies—a cute combination of her childhood nickname and her main product, the French sandwich cookie.
The future café is very conveniently located, only about five minutes away from campus, at 298 Highland Ave. This is also right down the street from another local favorite, Southern Grace Coffee Company. Until the café opens, you can find the Hammie’s Sammies stand at the Maryville Farmers’ Market every Saturday morning. They have many fun flavors for you to try.