How One Nashville Coffee Shop Turned Vandalism Into A Community Art Project

"All you need is love (& coffee.)" Along with the words "home" and family," this mantra is stenciled on the outside of Caliber Coffee Company in Nashville. It could be a kitschy slogan for any coffee joint, but the owners of this small business proved that it's way more than just word art for them. It's what they truly believe about people, even when faced with an act of vandalism at their own shop.

On June 11, owners Alaina and Keith Schwartz shared video footage on Caliber's Facebook page of vandals tagging the business fence with graffiti. Instead of calling the police, swearing vengeance, or even decrying the act, the owners did something completely unexpected: They asked if community artists would create a mural on the fence. 

In the post, the owners noted with a touch of humor that the vandals had made a "solid attempt," but that their wish was for a better mural that would "uplift, bring hope, and connect our community." The Schwartzes quickly heard from followers offering their talents, support, and admiration that the couple chose to take the high road when they could've (understandably) chosen to react with anger. Just weeks earlier, after a plant was stolen from the shop, the owners again chose not to retaliate. Instead, they shared on Facebook a link for the local nursery and a wish for followers to enjoy more "happy plants." 

The owners of Caliber Coffee Co. were about to learn just how inspiring their actions were.

The owners could never have predicted what happened next

Alaina and Keith Schwartz hoped to turn the unfortunate vandalism of their business, Caliber Coffee Co., into a chance to connect the community through a beautiful mural, but they were floored by what happened next. Just five days after the crime occurred, the couple shared on their Facebook page the most amazing thing. The teens who had defaced the fence at the business came in and apologized. They asked for forgiveness, and for the chance to fix their mistake. In the post, the Schwartzes wrote, "Friends, we have all made mistakes. It takes a huge amount of bravery to then ask another for forgiveness." And the surprises didn't stop there.

Their story was reported by local Nashville news stations like WKRN, who shared that the teens made good on their promise: Not only did they paint over the graffiti at Caliber Coffee, they did the same at neighboring businesses they had vandalized that same night. Owner Keith Schwartz said their decision "takes a lot of guts to do." The Caliber Coffee Co. story also reached national news outlets like Fox News. Owner Alaina Schwartz told them that the apology was "absolutely shocking," and that she was glad to be setting the "tone and example" for second chances and forgiveness.   

As for the mural, WKRN shared that the Schwartzes have had many offers from local artists, and they're committed to make this art for the Caliber Coffee neighborhood a reality soon.