Old Tyler Road Café LLC is located in Nacogdoches, Texas, and is the home of delicious foods and great music. According to the owner Barrion Johnson, it is also a place to celebrate with family and friends. Many restaurants in town do not have the space to bring out-of-town guests for a night of celebrating. He wanted to change that. Barrion was born and raised in Nacogdoches, Texas, and grew up with three brothers.

Barrion Johnson, the owner of Olde Tyler Road Cafe in Nacogdoches, TX, has a passion for music and great food.

“We were taught at a young age to cook. With a house full of boys, my mother insisted we learn how to prepare meals,” Barrion said.

Barrion has worked in the restaurant industry for close to 27 years. For 15 years, he owned a similar café in Lufkin, Texas. He sold the business for personal reasons but always wanted to return to the restaurant business. He continued cooking for his family, but in 2015, he took a job in the healthcare industry as a director of housekeeping.

Barrion shares the story of his journey from healthcare to restaurant owner during Covid

As the next few years went by, all Barrion could think of was his passion. “In 2019, I bought a building,” Barrion said. He was going to start pursuing his dream once again. In March 2020, he ran into some hardships when COVID started sweeping the Country. Barrion got nervous working in a hospital.

Sweet potatoes at Old Tyler Road Cafe

He told himself it was time to start renovating the building that he had recently purchased. Barrion did just that. He said that he wanted to take each step of the renovation seriously. “A wasted step is wasted effort,” and “I want to ensure that I get it done right,” Barrion shared.

While working hard to renovate the building, he found an article in the newspaper about getting a small business loan from Communities Unlimited (CU). Barrion kept the newspaper on his nightstand for a month before reaching out to CU’s Small Business Lender, Chris Ranniger.

Chris and Barrion worked together to devise a financial plan to meet Barrion’s needs for him to start another restaurant.

Barrion Johnson, owner of Old Tyler Road Cafe talks about his interaction with Communities Unlimited

“Chris worked hard to get me where I needed to be. If he had not put in the effort that he did, I probably wouldn’t be where I am,” Barrion shared.

Olde Tyler Road Café LLC is on the way to being a successful restaurant. Although the restaurant has not officially opened, Barrion has already started hosting special events to prepare for the grand opening.

Barrion has many plans for the restaurant, including a full menu (that he puts his spin on), daily specials, and live music. Barrion’s plans do not stop at the restaurant. “I plan to open up my own non-profit, BIC, which stands for Being Involved Community,” he said. He wants to give back to the community he has always called home.

Barrion’s Fried Chicken is a popular menu item.

Barrion’s loan is the first loan from CU’s new Nacogdoches office. Barrion said, “I am thankful to be allowed to receive a loan from CU. The process was painless. CU cares about what they are doing, and I am happy that I did not have to close the doors on my dream.”