1823 Bakehouse branching out to Seymour franchise

The search was on for a gluten-free eatery that was delicious at the same time.

When Jason Harmon’s daughter, Stevie, was diagnosed with celiac disease, they had a hard time finding a place where she could eat due to her gluten allergy. She found 1823 Bakehouse, and the Seymour residents made their way up Interstate 65 to Franklin.

After taking in the gluten-free bakery and café, Harmon immediately took action to get a similar café closer to home.


“I loved the food, the atmosphere, everything so much that I just emailed them while I was sitting at one of their tables and asked if they ever want to expand down to the Seymour area,” he said. “Our community could really use something like that.”

Harmon had no intentions of getting involved in the business. But two months later, 1823 Bakehouse co-owner Elissa McKee responded to his email, and the ball started rolling.

“One thing led to another, and we started talking about finding the facility down here and opening up their first franchise,” Harmon said.

The new location, located at 123 W. Second St. in Seymour, will be named 1852 Café. The shop is named after the founding year of Seymour, just as 1823 Bakehouse is named after the year Franklin was founded.

Harmon and his wife, Stacy, will be running the café with help from his parents and their four kids. He hopes 1852 Café helps others within the community like 1823 Bakehouse did for his daughter.

“We’ve heard about how many other people have allergies, whether that’s celiac, nuts, milk, dairy and they’re just excited to come in here,” Harmon said. “I had no idea we’d be able to help the community out this much.”

Aside from working at places like Applebee’s in his youth, Harmon has never done anything like this before. The challenge is new and exciting, he said.

Similarly, 1823 Bakehouse owners McKee and her husband, Thomas Moore, have never worked in food service. The couple had dreamed of owning a café after retirement but decided the dream didn’t have to wait. They purchased the space on the square in downtown Franklin that formerly housed Suzy’s Teahouse and Bakery in 2018.

Moore’s own celiac disease taught them how to accommodate dietary restrictions, and Suzy’s had already been celiac-safe, they said.

The owners would not have had the personnel to expand, McKee said, but when Harmon said he could run the new franchise, they were all for it.

Because downtown Franklin has a few coffee shops, McKee and Moore keyed in on serving teas and baked goods at 1823 Bakehouse. In Seymour, 1852 Café will be the first coffee shop in the area, so it will serve up a greater variety of coffee along with the classic gluten-free dining.

With the pandemic receding but still lingering, it may seem strange that a local business can franchise now. McKee and Moore, however, worked overtime throughout the closures to change the bakery’s business model.

When the pandemic started and restaurants closed, the bakery began delivering. McKee would announce the area she’d be delivering to and immediately get a cluster of orders. Many families would order a week’s worth of meals at a time, she said.

This high demand and community support are reassuring to McKee and Moore as the franchise in Seymour works toward opening day.

1852 Café hasn’t announced a set-in-stone opening date, but Harmon hopes to have it opened by the end of June. Harmon himself is helping to get the site ready for customers.

“There’s blood, sweat and tears going into this building,” Harmon said.

The outpouring of support and curiosity from the Seymour community has been almost overwhelming, he said.

“The mayor has been texting me off and on for the past couple months,” Harmon said. “He stopped by, city council. Just in town buzz alone. I can’t go to any store. If I buy something for the café and I say, ‘Put it under the café bill,’ then they’re like, ‘So you’re the one.’”

The high expectations do feel daunting, Harmon said, but he is excited to try and live up to them.

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