Connecting Community through Coffee: Tryon Coffeehouse Co-Op and GreenLife Inn

Opened in 1998, Tryon Coffeehouse Co-Op is well known for its food and beverage offerings.

What started out as frustration towards Old Man Winter has turned into one couple’s unrelenting passion for a small mountain town in Polk County.

“My wife and I both grew up in northeastern Ohio,” said Kevin Parker. “We were done with the long winters and never-ending lake effect snow. So, we packed up everything and bought a farm down south, loaded up the truck, and started a new life.”

After they initially found themselves running a farm in South Carolina, Kevin and Mary Parker eventually crossed the state line and landed in Western North Carolina. By 2018, they’d not only become co-managers of the beloved Tryon Coffeehouse Co-Op, the duo had also opened the GreenLife Inn at The Mimosa just down the road.

“The coffeehouse is the social hub of Tryon, the weigh station for everyone who either lives here or passes through,” Kevin said. “You’ll see the police chief, fire chief, mayor, town manager—everybody goes there.”

Opened in 1998, the coffeehouse is well known for its food and beverage offerings, alongside community events and gatherings aimed at fostering a deep sense of camaraderie at the heart of any small town.

“And Tryon itself has evolved so much in the past five years or so,” Kevin said. “Besides people just wanting to live in this beautiful place, the nearby Tryon International Equestrian Center has become a huge economic boon for the area. Riders and visitors from all over the world come here.”

In 2015, the Parkers took over an old home that had seen better years but had the potential to be a beacon for those seeking respite from the organized chaos of life. Two years later, the GreenLife Inn rented its first room in the picturesque boutique bed and breakfast.

“This isn’t your grandmother’s type of bed and breakfast, filled with antique furniture and with the feel of a museum. It’s about comfort and relaxation,” Kevin said. “We want people to walk in and feel at home, to look out the big picture window, to see the mountain right in front of you and the gigantic magnolia tree.”

And the Parkers are more than happy to open their home to any and all in search of the natural beauty and rich culture permeating this rolling landscape of high peaks and low valleys.

“You want people to feel special when they stay here,” Kevin said. “You’re extracting them from the stresses of their daily lives and craziness of wherever they’re traveling from. It’s impossible to have high blood pressure when you’re in these mountains.”

Musing over the long and rollicking journey taken since leaving the Midwest for the Southeast those many years ago, what remains is a true sense of joyous fate and sincere gratitude felt as the Parkers awaken each morning into their ever-evolving existence in WNC.

“Although this is a very tight-knit community, we’ve been overwhelmingly accepted here, and I think that has to do with being genuine in your intent—of who you are and what you want to do,” Kevin said. “Tryon is a place where your friends are your neighbors, you host each other for dinner, and help each other out in a time of need. That’s what community is all about.”

This post is adapted from our annual Welcome to Western North Carolina magazine. Click here to read more online, or click here to request your free copy.

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