- [Joe] This time on "Tennessee Crossroads" we discover the rustic craftsmanship of Orlinda Furniture Company in Robertson County. Then enjoy the at-home feeling and comfort food of an Ashland City diner. We'll discover why Gibson's Donuts are a favorite sweet treat among Mephians. And finally take you on a high-flying adventure near Chattanooga. Hi everybody, I'm Joe Elmore. Welcome again to another edition of "Tennessee Crossroads". How does a hobby become a profession? Well, usually with a heavy dose of passion. That's the way it was for a young man in Robertson County who always loved making furniture with new and old wood. Who are now partnered with an old school chum, Curt Chaffin is living the dream, so to speak. One board at a time. - [Curt] They're wanting something that is made out of solid wood. They're not wanting to buy something that's cheap, particle board, shipped from overseas. They want something that has a story with it. It's almost like they're creating their own piece of what they want. We're just the hands that do it. - [Joe] It all started in 2011. When Curt Chaffin and a friend began crafting Adirondack chairs for family and friends, using local reclaimed barn wood. Before long that hobby evolved into the Orlinda Furniture Company. Now located in a 2,500 square foot freestanding facility. After his co-founder Harris Green left the business, well Curt was in need of a partner who shared his passion and philosophy. That person turned out to be his old high school chum, Chris Newberry. - [Chris] Well, I've always been good with my hands, taking stuff apart, putting it back together. I've always loved creating. I've always loved seeing the finished product That the feeling of satisfaction, there's no other comparison. - [Curt] Now I was looking for a business partner and I asked him and he jumped all over it. He was ready to go. - [Joe] Every day is different here in the shop. Often with several pieces in the work simultaneously For years, Curtis and company would tear down old barns themselves to salvage the wood. But times and trends have changed to make things more efficient. - [Curt] Our time is better spent in shop. So as far as that goes, people bring us the lumber, we'll buy the lumber and stuff. But when we first started, the reclaim part was big. And now we're starting to see the pieces of furniture that we do are kind of more your new wood, your walnuts, and new poplar and things like that. It's still there. The repurpose, reclaimed kind of look is still there but you can kind of see it slowly fading out. - [Joe] The first step in most projects is cutting the wood to length. That is, unless it's reclaimed wood. - [Curt] First, it's de-nailing, which is very aggravating. So you gotta get all the nails out. You do the best you can but sometimes you do miss some and you'll find them when you run it through the planer at the table saw. Just depending on what the client is looking for, we can run it through the planer. We can take all that rough off of it because with the with the barn wood, there's an inner beauty to it. Everybody sees something that looks like it ought to be thrown in fire and discarded but when you run it through the planer that material is so pretty. It's got so much character to it, different coloration to it. - [Joe] After trimming the edges straight on a table saw they often use a good old-fashioned hand planer to finish the job. The job in this case will result in a new table. - [Curt] This is gonna be at like a corner table. So this is the top to the table. And what we've done is we run all the, it was reclaimed material, so we've run it all through the planer, straight-edged it. And now we've got it in the glue up process. Here in a couple more days, we'll have some legs on it and the drawer and sending it out the door. - [Joe] Despite having state-of-the-art equipment, this is the only way to create a fireplace mantle with that now popular rough-hewn look. - [Curt] We're buying just sawn-out pine lumber, 6x8. And what we do with it is we'll chop it out and give it the appearance of a hand hewn log, so it looks old, but it's new wood made to look old, is kind of what it is. But we we chop them out. They got a hand hewn look to them and kind of a free floating mantle. - [Joe] Curtis and Chris can create just about anything made with wood, including custom cabinets, counters, sliding doors, and what you name it. Oh, and the Adirondack chairs that started at all, they're still a mainstay now in two styles. - [Curt] There's the traditional style. And then we do a set that's done out of tobacco sticks. And that that's really unique to the adder-on that kind of look is just those tobacco sticks. But they can be made out of anything. Most of our Adirondack sets are done out of the reclaimed wood. But these are these over here, they're the new poplar. - [Joe] A philosopher once said, "Ambition is enthusiasm with a purpose." Curtis Chaffin had a growing enthusiasm for creating with wood. Now working with his childhood friend, Chris Newberry, a shared purpose unfolds each day at the Orlinda Furniture Company. - [Chris] The best part about it for me is when I get to see the finished product and I get to see the customer enjoy that product for the lifetime. And to see the look on their faces when they receive it, nothing like it. - [Curt] And we're having a good time. We've got big plans for later down the road. And well, we're just gonna keep riding this train. - Say, have you ever been to a place that made you feel at home the minute you got there? Well, it didn't take Rob Wilds long to feel at home at a place called O'Brien's Southern Diner just outside of Ashland City. Let's check it out. - Here we go! - [Rob] Come to O'Brien's Southern Diner and you're going to find Candice O'Brien Beasley going all the time. - Did everything come out correct over here, y'all? Good. Awesome. - [Rob] On the rare occasion something is not correct... - Well darn! - [Rob] Candace knows who to blame. Not her son who helps in the kitchen, not her daughter, who's a waitress, not the other young women who are servers here. Nope. Candace would pretty much have to blame Candace. - I love touching every plate 'cause I know it's not gonna get messed up if I do it myself. I can't help it. If somebody sends something back, I know it's my fault. And I can't get mad at anybody else, but myself. I've always been that way though. I just want to touch every plate that goes out - [Rob] For Candace, there's a lot of pressure when every plate has to pass the perfection test. But you know what they say. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen. Candace may feel the heat sometimes, but she's not going anywhere. - [Candace] I'm a little bit of a perfectionist. - [Rob] Really? - Just a little bit. We do everything big here. Our pancakes are huge. Our burgers are huge, plate lunch, we give a little more than we probably should. - [Rob] Part of the checking every plate, is making sure her customers' eyes are not bigger than their stomachs. So along with each hamburger, each hungry guest gets a friendly warning. - [Candace] We always make sure when somebody orders a double that's new, that's never been here, we're like, "You do realize that's a pound of meat." And nine times out of 10, they changed their mind. And they get the single. I try to get the waitresses, just tell her. 'Cause I mean, they come in and get this massive burger, this little lady, she can't eat that. And I want everybody to be pleased. I'd rather them be happy than to make that extra five bucks off of a double. - [Rob] It's about letting her customers enjoy lots of good food and still feel good about it later. It's sort of like Candace and her customers and crew are all part of a dance choreographed to deliver the favorites that come out of her kitchen. - The biggest sellers are burgers, they're a half pound burger, and our fish, which we hand batter fresh each order. We do catfish but we do ours a little different. It's more of a Louisiana style catfish but everybody seems to really like it. We do breakfast, lunch and dinner, Wednesday through Saturday. And then we do breakfast and lunch on Sunday. And we're closed every Monday and Tuesday. It's coming, it's got cheese. - Oh, okay. - I don't want, here, just stay right there. I got you right now. - [Rob] If Candace sounds a little like everybody's favorite grandma, there's a good reason. - [Candace] I basically cooked all my life and or waited tables somewhere. I've worked in the restaurant industry since I was 14 years old, but I grew up cooking with my nanny and my grandmother. My nanny and her husband owned Linebaugh's Restaurant that was on Broadway in Nashville for years. She taught me some things as I was young, kind of what they cook there and things like that. And then me and my grandmother, we cooked every day together. We were always making food for somebody at church or taking it to someone. - [Rob] With that sort of example to follow, every Christmas Candace and her crew feed all comers for free. - [Candace] And we'll hit all the local nursing homes. We'll hit all the shut-ins here, anybody that's just down on their luck, we'll feed them as well. On Christmas we do about six, 700 meals. So it's a lot. - [Rob] It is a lot running your own business. - [Candace] I love it. I like being my own boss. - [Rob] Which means bossing members of the family. Daughter, Brooklyn Beasley says, "Yes, Mom is a perfectionist, but that's okay." - [Brooklyn] I love working with my parents. I think it's the best thing I've ever done. - Is it really? - Yes. And I'm so glad that this is my first job and it's with my parents and my brothers. - [Rob] O'Brien's Southern Diner is out in the country a bit outside Ashland City, but it's a pretty drive. As you driving down the road, looking for O'Brien's, You may miss it. 'Cause there's so many cars parked along the road, you can't see the sign. You know what? I think she's gonna need a bigger sign and a bigger parking lot. - On the weekends, people park on the road like almost to the bridge, some days. But we have that field over there. We just try to make it work. - [Rob] Work, it does. People come from all over and still, Candace knows her customers well enough to miss one who hasn't been around in a while. - Thank y'all for coming in. - There's one of your old bus boys. - I know, right? - How are you? - Good, how you doin'? - I haven't seen you in forever. Forever and ever. - [Rob] Knowing who's coming and going could be part of being a perfectionist. A perfectionist with a passion. - [Candace] We trying to give back to our community as much as possible. We try really hard. We work really hard to please everyone. So we love our little shack out here. - [Rob] Well, if you like good food and friendly folks, I'd say the chances are pretty good that you're gonna love Candace's little shack. - [Candace] How are y'all doing? There were thing good? - Yes. - Like many businesses over the past year, O'Brien's has been through rough times. They've had to scale back their hours to Thursday through Sunday for the time being. We sincerely wish Candace and everyone in similar situations, all the best. Memphis has more than its share of iconic places. Whether it's Graceland and the Peabody Hotel, but there's also a donut shop that's pretty near and dear to the hearts of Memphians and famous food critics as well. They consider Gibson's Donuts among the best in the country. - I want the chocolate with the sprinkles. - [Danielle] When you want a donut, you go to a bakery. - You want white sprinkles or chocolate sprinkles? - [Danielle] But when you want a donut and a memorable experience, you go to Gibson's in Memphis. - How are y'all doin'? What can I get for you? - [Customer] Chocolate cruller. Freshly baked. - First-timers, here you go! First timers! There you go. First timers! - How fun is it to work here? - [Danielle] Gibson's Donuts is a place where everyone knows your name. And if they don't, they will before you leave. - I worked across the street from it over there at 25. And they said I spent more time over here than I did over there working. - [Danielle] This is a fast paced store where the employees are friendly, the coffee is hot and the donuts keep people coming back for more. - [Female Customer] I like their fluffiness. They always are the same. Some donuts you buy, they don't have the same consistency but they always seem to be the same no matter what time of the day. - [Danielle] Gibson has been voted one of the best donuts in the country. So we asked the owner, "What makes you stand out in the crowd?" - We let them rise three times, where most donut shops'll let 'em rise once. Some will let 'em rise twice, but we let 'em rise three times. That's the biggest key that we do. We might spill a little yeast in there every once in a while, maybe just a little bit of sugar, but it's just, we give it the tender-lovin' care. - [Danielle] Don DeWeese has owned Gibson's Donuts for 22 years but the place has actually been around since 1967. Although he's in charge now, that was not Don's original plan. - [Don] We bought it as an investment for our oldest son Blair, who graduated in engineering at Mississippi State. He ran it for two years and moved to Italy. My wife took it over and ran it for five years and then she had enough stress. And so I took it over and started running it from there. And then my son Britain came back about eight years ago and it takes both of us. It takes both Britain and I. Now. Try that - [Danielle] His son will one day take over. But for now, Don is here every day, greeting everyone who comes in. When he's not doing that, he's working on the large inventory for the store. - [Don] We're probably the largest single privately owned, one location donut shop in the country. Donald Food Products, which is the number one bakery product in the world, says nobody buys the amount of mix we buy per week, than we right here. - [Danielle] That mix is used to make a wide variety of flavors. Everything from glazed to chocolate, to chocolate with sprinkles, you name it. And every few weeks they do a little cooking outside the box for their donut of the month. - [Don] This is something that we started and one of the people at Donald Food Products told us about the red velvet with cream cheese icing on it. And we said, "Cream cheese?!" We did that for a month and we took it off and people started fussin'. So we put it back as an everyday item and we still have. We did the same thing with maple-bacon. My son invented this maple-bacon donut. And we use a very, very, high, high expensive product of bacon. And we did that for a month, we stopped that and people started complainin' so now we do that everyday. Same thing with the Oreo. Same thing with the lemon drop. - [Danielle] And if you crave these delicious confections long after the sun goes down, don't worry. The doors at Gibson's Donuts are always open. - [Don] We have to put the old stuff away. We have to put the new product out. So if we're making donuts in the middle of the night and putting the new out, anybody that walks in, we might as well sell them something. And some nights we'll do over a thousand dollars at night. Between 10 at night and six in the morning. A lot of that's done right after 10 o'clock when we put some donuts on sale. A lot of it's done early in the morning right before six. But it's just easier to stay open than to close. - [Danielle] Now, if you think this place is busy during the week, you should see it on the weekend. The crowd could include anyone from the singer, Al Green to the regular who's been coming here for 40 years. And of course, lots of children. - [Don] Well, I've got eight and a half grandchildren. And when you get old like me, your grandchildren are, it's the best thing in life. So this is a kid store. We have sprinkles and we cater to the kids and if a lady and a six or seven year old comes up, I'm going to ask the kid what they want instead of the mama. A red velvet? Okay, get it! - I want that one. - [Don] The parents appreciate that, the kids too. And if you make that kid have a fun time, next Saturday they're gonna say, "Daddy, let's go to the donut shop." - [Danielle] For more than 50 years, Gibson's Donuts has been a staple in Memphis. Now with the help of social media, they're bringing their treats to an even larger crowd which means more people are hearing about a little shop with big flavors. - [Don] It's like a jigsaw puzzle why we're so famous. We don't know how many pieces is in that puzzle. And we don't know which piece is the biggest but I think social media is probably gonna be the second biggest piece, just because the absolute biggest piece is the quality of our donuts. Thank you, we appreciate it my friend. - Thanks Danielle. Since the dawn of time, people have dreamed of flying. Sure, you can hop on an airliner anytime you like, but that doesn't give you the sensation you'll get at our next destination. Cindy Carter recently took to the wild blue yonder, near Chattanooga by jumping off a perfectly good mountain. At the Lookout Mountain Flight Park. - [Cindy] The view from atop Lookout Mountain is breathtaking! But for those who want to up the ante... The view is even more thrilling when you're just hanging out among the clouds. - [Rebecca] It's pretty, pretty magical. - [Cindy] And hang-gliding magic is something Rebecca Taylor experiences every chance she gets. - I love that first couple moments of the flight when you have your hanger on your back and when your feet are lifting up off the ground. That's what kind of got me hooked was just the first couple of inches of flight. It's absolutely magical having a pair of your very own wings. - Morning! - Morning. - Welcome to Flight Park, how's it goin'? - We're great. - [Cindy] Rebecca helps hundreds of people earn their wings at the Lookout Mountain Flight Park, just outside of Chattanooga. - Both of you guys are goin' up today? - [Cindy] This hang-gliding and paragliding school teaches students of all ages how to soar through the sky high above the Tennessee Valley. - [Rebecca] On average, it takes about seven to 10 days to learn how to fly a hang glider or by yourself. Instead of training wheels, beginners have training hills where they put their new skills into practice. Over and over. - Eventually go from our small hill to our big hill. And pretty soon, right off the ramp. - Clear! - [Cindy] And Rebecca says, once pilots start stepping off ledges like this, they are also stepping into a community of like-minded free flying fearless folks. - You can call people up to stay in people's houses or say, "Hey, I'm going to France. "Do you know anybody?" "Yeah, sure. "Here's my friend, Peter." It's a worldwide community because of this one sport linking us all together. - All right, let me get down next to you here. - Okay. - [Cindy] For those not quite ready to go it alone, tandem flights are a more mainstream and popular option. The flight park does a few thousand of these every year. - I'm joining the Peace Corps tomorrow. So this is like my adventure before my adventure. - [Cindy] For tandem flight adventures, students like Addison Bird are strapped to the pilot instructor. - And then your other hand, gonna hold on right there. - [Cindy] They're both then secured to the glider which is tethered to a small plane. - All right, Addison, you feelin' ready? - I'm ready. - We're ready. - [Cindy] The plane takes the glider up, up and away about 3,000 feet before cutting it loose. - [Flight Trainer] A lot of people think that we're going up there and doing something that's gonna be really terrifying or really shocking, something like that. But we can make it exciting. We can make it pretty scary if we want to. But most people are pretty surprised with how calm it is. - [Addison] They're pulling you and you feel it, like the tension. And then he let go and it was awesome. Awesome. - [Cindy] Notice we referred to Addison as a student. That's because these aren't just thrill rides. - Everything good? - Yes. A little tight on my neck. - [Cindy] Before anyone goes up, students receive a roughly 10 minute tutorial on how to fly the glider. - As long as you're moving through the air at enough speed to keep the wing flying at, the right nose angle, it'll fly. - You don't really feel like you're doing it, but you're up there flying. - [Cindy] Yeah, maybe. But I just had to find out for myself. - Face back forward. - [Cindy] Once locked in, instructor Ted reinforces that hang-gliding flight 101. - [Instructor Ted] To make this go faster, bring yourself forward. That's faster as you let go, it slows us down. If you want to turn one way or the other, if you want to go this way you just want to bring your full body over this way. Yeah, now bring your shoulders over too. - Oh. - Just like, yeah, feel that? - Oh yeah! - Moving your weight over. - [Cindy] Sky still looks good, wind is right. Time for takeoff. - Here we go! - Oh my gosh, oh my gosh! We're rollin'. - Ooh, it's just below us. - And we're flying. - Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Wow, that's so cool! - [Cindy] As cool as takeoff is, and it's pretty cool, nothing beats the view from above. Where Ted is quick to point out landmarks and the beautiful birds who've decided to fly with us. - [Ted] There's another one right there. Oh man! Oh, that's pretty awesome. Usually they don't let us get that close. That's really cool. - [Cindy] Once we cut loose from the plane, Ted and I are on our own. And the teacher lets the student take the wheel. Or in this case, the control bar. - The lighter you grip on it, the more control you have. - [Cindy] The experience is everything our friends have described. Thrilling, cool, peaceful, present, humbling, and yeah, awesome. Like a lot of outdoor sports, and this tends to be male-dominated. But when you're up in the air, we are all equal and Ted has made me feel great! - [Addison] The joke is to fly like a girl, is actually to your benefit because women can be really nimble. We're not muscling things around. Usually women in flight, we can definitely give the boys a run for their money. - [Cindy] Since the Wright Brothers, folks have longed to soar above the earth using rising air currents and thermals to sail off. This is amazing. Just like the birds. Or kites. Or even Superman. - Well done. - Thank you. - [Cindy] And when a hang-gliding flight finally does come to an end, you can't help but wonder, when will I get another chance to defy gravity and just hang out for a while among the clouds? - Well, with that, we've got to say goodbye for another edition of "Tennessee Crossroads". Want you to check in on our website, when you get a chance. Tennesseecrossroads.org Follow us on Facebook. And of course, join us right here next week. Be looking for you.
February 11, 2021
Season 34 | Episode 26
This week on Tennessee Crossroads, Joe Elmore discovers the rustic creativity at Orlinda Furniture Company. Rob Wilds travels to Ashland City and O'Brien's Southern Diner. Danielle Allen finds a Memphis donut shop famous for its sweet treats and hospitality. Presented by Nashville Public Television.