SMYRNA — When it came to beginning a relationship or opening a new restaurant, Lamont and Karyn Spruel could never seem to find the appropriate time — or thyme, as they would joke.
That all changed this year as the couple got married at midnight on New Year’s Eve and, hence, opened their Our Thyme & Table restaurant at 19 W. Commerce St. in Smyrna on Aug. 1.
“Lamont and I went to high school together at Hodgson Vo-Tech back in the ’80s, and he tried courting me, and at that time it just wasn’t the right time,” Mrs. Spruel said. “Last year we reconnected and decided this year that we were going to make both of our dreams come true.
“So, we got married and we were approached about opening a restaurant and we found this location and we figured this was our time.”
Mr. Spruel said that 2021 has been a whirlwind of activity for he and his wife — even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We thought it was just a great opportunity with us coming out of COVID and the state releasing everybody back into the workforce. We thought August 1st would be a great time to open,” said Mr. Spruel. “It’s right before people get back from the beach and right before school starts and families are starting to get back to normal.
“It’s still pretty early. We both knew we wanted restaurants we just didn’t know with each other that we both had the same dream.”
That dream also arrived a decade sooner than expected, according to Mr. Spruel.
“I thought this (restaurant) was going to be our retirement 10 years from now, but we got into a situation where we got this restaurant 10 years early,” he said. “The community has been supporting us 100 percent and the town has backed us as well. We have a lot of people who just want us to succeed and do well, so it’s actually kind of cool.”
Their idea for Thyme & Table has turned into a charming brick and wood restaurant that offers farm-fresh food daily to their patrons in Smyrna.
They have an expansive indoor seating area with several booths, an outdoor patio where guests can dine under the sun or stars and a newly opened bar. They are open seven days a week from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m.
“Our most popular plates are the brisket, prime rib and the fried chicken,” Mrs. Spruel said. “Those three are the main dishes that everybody really enjoys.”
Their customers have been raving about the food, prepared by Mr. Spruel, on the restaurant’s Facebook page over the past month.
Patty Voshell Pugh wrote, “First time here and we will be back! Great bartender and wonderful husband and wife owners (husband is the cook!). Beautifully decorated interior, natural wood and brick.
“We had the Bangbang Shrimp appetizer (so good!). My husband had the (huge!) Tomahawk steak, deliciously seasoned/perfectly cooked medium rare. I had salmon with mango salsa and fresh asparagus — so good! High marks. A great dining addition for Smyrna!”
There were several other similar reviews praising the new addition to Smyrna’s restaurant scene.
Mrs. Spruel, who also helps out in the kitchen, said they appreciate the support they are receiving from the local community as well as the Town of Smyrna in helping get everything in order for their opening.
“It’s been steady,” she said. “We started seeing an influx this past week. We have a temporary liquor license that was applied just last Thursday.
“We have our regulars. We’ve been here 32 days and we have a few (customers) that have been here probably close to 32 days — so we’re very appreciative.”
Denys Hopper Demczak is one of those individuals, who wrote on social media, “We’ve had so many different meals and they were all great.”
Mrs. Spruel said everything has not been all wine and roses as they made their foray into the food industry. But, she added, that is to be expected. Her husband said there have been a lot of unexpected “surprises” along the way.
“The restaurant industry is completely different than any of the other businesses out there in the world,” she said. “It’s definitely a tough one, but it’s all a learning curve — one day at a time.
“We had some problems (hiring help) in the beginning, but you learn. There are learning curves with everything. We still have some in-and-out employee revolving door and that kind of a thing, but we’re pretty good, we’re pretty much staffed.”
Mr. Spruel said the trouble with finding reliable individuals to help staff the restaurant was one of their biggest challenges.
“We offered a higher wage in the beginning to entice people to come in and we wanted those people to stay,” he said. “Unfortunately, many of them still don’t want to work.”
Mrs. Spruel believes that is all about to change with the coming of fall.
“I think we’re going to see a huge change once school’s back in session,” she said. “We do also employ teenagers and we’re starting the freshmen out with the job of a host or hostess, or as a bus person, along with those 17-year-olds who are in high school trying to help mom and dad with college tuitions or paying vehicle expenses or whatever.”
For now, the Spruels are learning their daily lessons and making some changes on the fly and are happy to welcome guests to their new restaurant, which they say is “Our Thyme, Your Table, OUR place!”