LEBANON, Tenn. (WTVF) — There's a tradition that's been with one city for decades. Lifelong friendships have been made in the booths of this little business. Christmas Eve brought so many people to a familiar place for a bittersweet reason.
At J. Clayborn's Bakery and Cafe in Lebanon, there's been a lot of reason to keep coming back for all that fried, glazed, sprinkled, marshmallowed whole mouthful bites of pure sugary goodness. Everyone has a favorite item.
“The lemon fruit cookies, you’ll never find another cookie like it," said server Kat Cothron.
“I have a gingerbread addiction," laughed a longtime customer. "I had to buy every gingerbread cookie they had in the building.”
“She likes the chocolate donut," said another customer pointing to her little girl.
“I have four dozen donuts in my freezer," another customer chimed in.
“My sweet tooth was acting up!” a man said, approaching displays of cakes, pies, and cookies.
Just like the bakery has watched the people grow up, people have watched the bakery grow and change. Way back in 1960, Johnnie J. Clayborn became co-owner of what was then Driver’s Bakery. There was a move and name changes over many years, and now, it’s run by Clayborn’s granddaughters, Brittany and Brooke.
“My favorite is a peach fried pie," said Brittany.
“Everything over there is good," added Brooke. "I am the baker, so I guess I’m partial.”
Even with bags and boxes of so much joy, you could see the tears forming on this Christmas Eve. These were the last minutes of J. Clayborn’s. In this time of the great resignation, Brooke and Brittany said they didn’t have the staff to keep their small business going.
“16 hour days just don’t work for us," said Brooke. "She’s trying to start a family.”
“It’s so sad it’s the last day," said a customer picking up a final order.
“It’s hard right now on small businesses," added another.
In the little time they had left, people said goodbye with one more box of the sweet stuff they love.
“I just wanna get a keepsake," laughed a man, opening a full box of donuts. “I’ll even give you one!”
“Always loved the peach pies, and I just got the last two!” laughed a woman.
“I wouldn't call them customers anymore," said Brittany. "They're like family. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”