Lorraine Jordan reinvents herself during the pandemic

The Lady of Tradition, Lorraine Jordan, front woman and mandolinist for her band, Carolina Road, didn’t let the global pandemic stop her when venues shuttered their doors and bookings evaporated in 2021. Instead of sitting at home wondering how to spend her downtime, the proprietor of Lorraine’s Coffee House & Music in Garner, NC, live streamed shows (with a virtual tip jar) from her venue on Facebook, returned to the studio and scored her fourth #1 bluegrass hit with Bill Monroe’s Ol’ Mandolin, and elected to expand her business and open a café.

The bluegrass entrepreneur explained her vision. “With COVID restrictions and fewer people in the building, we took the opportunity to transform a conference room into our kitchen and develop recipes for good, fun food. We will always be focused on creating a family-friendly environment (no alcoholic beverages) to the locals, and folks who travel for hours to visit Lorraine’s.”

“Lorraine’s Coffee House & Music had begun the process of installing a new video streaming service that allowed us, and other bands that performed during the lockdown, to live stream via social media in HD quality,” shared Matt Hooper, Carolina Road fiddler. “This gave the band some performance opportunities, which, as strange as it was playing to an empty room because of restrictions, still allowed our fans to enjoy something while being stuck at home. Lorraine had also always dreamed of having her own café. She felt this downtime and limited access to walk-in traffic would give her the opportunity to renovate the shop and allow the construction of a fully functioning kitchen. As of this writing, Lorraine’s Coffee & Cafe is now operating with a full menu of delicious goodies to compliment her already stellar lineup of caffeinated beverages.”

Lorraine’s café held its grand opening on April 12, 2021 in Garner, just south of Raleigh. The menu consists of sandwiches (club, paninis, and grilled cheese), salads (garden, pasta, and potato), chips, and chocolate chip cookies. Patrons select their choice of breads, meats, cheeses, and condiments. Thursdays through Saturdays, pizza, nachos, and popcorn are also available. There is also a coffee bar and ice cream. With a drink, most meals run about $10. There’s also a kids’ menu that features $5 meals.

Outside you might catch glimpses of her tour bus and food truck, along with a fleet of white cars. Jordan reportedly owns one of the largest driver education schools in the nation.

Inside, there is a Station Inn type décor. The walls are filled with photos and memorabilia from Jordan’s personal collection. The eastern North Carolina native has performed in 40 states, 13 countries, and appeared on the Grand Ole Opry. She is pictured with music legends such as Dolly Parton, George Jones, and Roy Acuff. There’s also a spot devoted to purchasing her musical merchandise: CDs, t-shirts, etc.

“So proud of and for Lorraine. Adding the café to an already great place is just icing on the cake!” shared Sideline front man and banjoist, Steve Dilling.

“The dictionary is filled with adjectives that aptly describe Lorraine Jordan,” Carolina Road band mate and bluegrass veteran, Randy Graham, stressed. “Tenacious, resilient, and innovative come to mind instantly. There is a well-used quote, ‘If the world hands you lemons, make lemonade.’ Lorraine’s picture should be next to it. There is not an ounce of quit in her! Proud to call her my friend.”

Allen Dyer, Carolina Road’s guitarist and lead vocalist, concluded, “Lorraine found a way to bring live bluegrass music the same time and night each week to a locked in world. She seems to always find a way even when the odds are against her.”

Lorraine’s Coffee House & Music is located at 101 Timber Pointe Lane in Garner. Upcoming Friday night shows include: Davis Bradley, June 18; Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road, June 25, and Nick Chandler Band, July 2. Live music begins at 7:30 p.m. A complete listing of events can be found online.

Lorraine Jordan is also host band for the Willow Oak Park Bluegrass Festival in Roxboro, NC, June 17-19.

Share this:

About the Author

Sandy Hatley

Sandy Chrisco Hatley is a free lance writer for several NC newspapers and Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. As a teenager, she picked banjo with an all girl band called the Happy Hollow String Band. Today, she plays dobro with her husband's band, the Hatley Family.