Rugged Root gets strong support

By Theo Tate
Posted 9/21/23

Mariah and Tom Harner couldn’t believe the turnout their new coffee shop was getting within the first hour of business on Sept. 8.

“We had a line halfway across the store by 7 a.m., …

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Rugged Root gets strong support


Mariah and Tom Harner couldn’t believe the turnout their new coffee shop was getting within the first hour of business on Sept. 8.

“We had a line halfway across the store by 7 a.m., so we were swamped Friday morning,” Tom said. “It didn’t stop.”

The first day of the Rugged Root Candy & Coffee House at 117 W. Third Street in Montgomery City was a successful one as it drew over 100 customers. The store had 115 transactions.

“They welcomed us with open arms,” Mariah said. “They were very encouraging and supportive. We pretty much felt the love, for sure.”

Now, the Harners hope the family-owned business will continue being successful. The store, which is open from Monday through Saturday, sells numerous flavors of coffee and candy. Besides Mariah and Tom, their children Samantha and Preston also work at Rugged Root.

“I just want it to be very much community based and community centered,” Mariah said. “I want to be able to open up my home and let people come in. I hope that’s how they feel when they get here.”

The building housed a fitness gym before the Harners bought the building and started working on making it a coffeehouse in March.

“The day before Mariah called on this building, we talked about how to bring in money and whether or not we wanted to open up a business,” Tom said. “Our daughter (Samantha) lives right up the road. She drove by here, saw the sign on the window and called and said we need to look at it to maybe open up a business. So here we are.”

The Harners are originally from St. Louis. They moved to Montgomery County several years ago.

“The coolest thing was when I lived in St. Louis, I always wanted to have a coffee shop,” Mariah said. “They’re just like everywhere. It was never going to happen there. When we moved out here, I was going to be a farmer, but then I got sick. Then, I ended up having to come up with a plan B. So we kind of hinted about opening up a coffee shop and candy company. It kind of all fell into place. God just kind of made sure everything was kind of lined up for us to where we were able to do it.”

Mariah said she has been making candy most of her life. She and her sister, Erin Davies, owned a candy business in St. Louis.

“The candy recipes were mostly my grandma’s recipes,” Mariah said. “I was kind of raised doing it. My mom used to teach wedding cake decorating classes and candy making classes for Wilson’s Cake Decorating and Candy. So I was kind of raised making candy and cake. I am not a fan of decorating, so I stuck with the candy.”

Mariah said she was surprised with the large turnout on the first day of business since there was no advertising on it.

“On Friday, we were not prepared,” Mariah said. “We just told them by word of mouth. We didn’t do anything.”

The following day, on Sept. 9, Rugged Root drew another big turnout.

“On Saturday morning, we looked out and every table and every seat was filled,” Tom said. “There were folks sitting in here and chatting it up.”

Rugged Root sells tumblers for $30. Any patron who buys a tumbler gets a free drink. Each time a patron brings a clean tumbler will get a dollar off a refill.

Future plans of the coffee house include adding open mic nights and having board games and puzzles for patrons to play with. Haley Pipkins, who is Mariah’s niece and helped with the renovation of Rugged Root, said she is optimistic the business will continue to grow.

“The future is going to be so beautiful with all of the things they have planned,” she said. “They’re slowly growing it out. People will come one time and get coffee and candy, then come one time and they might not know. There might be a new addition to the menu. People will try something new. I think that’s something Montgomery will love because sometimes they’re used to everything being the same. Adding something new every once in a while kind of spices it up.”

Rugged Root opens at 6:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday. It closes at 9 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, noon on Wednesday and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.


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