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Inclusive South Knoxville coffee shop welcomes everyone inside

South Press opened in September and is already making an impact in Knoxville. People come to feel accepted and encouraged while enjoying a cup of coffee.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A new South Knoxville coffee shop is pouring acceptance into everyone's cup. It's called South Press, and it's all about being inclusive to everyone.

It's not been open for very long, but a viral video posted online about the café is bringing people in from all over the country.

One step inside South Press coffee shop off Chapman Highway feels like coming home. Here, you pick a coffee mug off the shelf and sit in a space that feels familiar.

"Our business model is that if you make people feel special, they will come back and that starts with creating a special place," owner Joslynn Fish said.

The eclectic atmosphere is full of donated items and locally sourced coffee, tea and pastries. The shop prides itself on being eco friendly too. Seven different farms and single family-owned businesses benefit from the day to day operations

"Anything that we can source locally, we do," Fish explained. "We try to keep the revenue the shop creates right here in the local economy."

To Fish, the shop is all about offering acceptance.

"It's a community space that's all-inclusive," Fish nodded. "I think that this is a space that you can come to when you just don't want to be alone or if you wanna gather with friends."

She opened the shop in September after losing her job during the pandemic. She wanted to offer others a shop full of safety and comfort.

"It's a space where a lot of people have felt comfortable being vulnerable and being honest with themselves and others, perhaps for the first time in their life, and I think that's a compliment within itself that I have created a space where people can be authentic," Fish said.

She encourages customers as soon as they open.

"From the moment you cross the threshold, from the moment you darken our door, you are met with love and affirmation that who you are is not only enough, but it is exceptional," Fish smiled.

Her business started booming after she posted videos on TikTok, showing people around.

"It has really changed the way the business looks," Fish nodded. "I went to sleep with 30 followers and I woke up to 2,000."

Since then, people flocked to the coffee shop from all over the country to support and be supported.

"We have had a line out the door for three to four hours at a time of 10 to15 people literally waiting," Fish said. "One in and one out waiting to come share the space with us."

For Fish, the most important thing isn't making a profit. It's about offering a space for people who need to be lifted up.

Fish said Knoxville needed a space like the one she created. It's not centered around alcohol, like most social spots. Rather, it's a warm environment filled with love.

"We sell coffee here at South Press coffee, that is a fact," Fish said. "But what we're really selling is community. This is a space where people come to belong."

Creating a home away from home. Fish said the customers are who bring the magic inside.

The shop is located at 3715 Chapman Highway. They're open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The shop follows strict COVID-19 protocols to keep everyone safe and healthy.

Only 13 customers are allowed inside at a time, masks are required and every table is sanitized before and after customers sit.