Nestled in a quiet and sunny nook on MLK Jr. Boulevard sits the new Agatha’s Coffee and Tea House, an off-the-beaten-path experience for both visitors and locals that offers an escape into a mysterious world.
Inside Agatha’s dark surroundings is a beautiful, handmade floor-to-ceiling bookshelf crowded with vintage books, mystery movie posters and memorabilia. Oscar Wilde and “The Hardy Boys,” fill the shelves along with a menu from The Orient Express.
The coffee, tea, and other beverages are served by the smiling barista who takes care of you from behind a fireplace that greets you as you walk in.
Open for nearly six months, the coffee shop already boasts an Agatha Christie book club, plans for a Halloween costume contest, and weekly tips and techniques on ghost hunting.
Agatha’s Coffee and Tea House is the creative endeavor of Darin Farr and his partners, Johnathan Clark and Taía Harris. Farr made Savannah his adopted home ten years ago, and given his past experiences, it’s no surprise he fell into this project.
“I retired from Walt Disney Productions in 2013 and moved here because I wanted to live someplace coastal, but not necessarily a beach town,” Farr says. “I wanted to go somewhere I could wear pants and shirts and stuff like this.”
He points to his dapper attire of a stylish fedora, a colorful necktie, and pressed tan slacks. He spreads out his arms to indicate the setting around him, which fits him perfectly.
“That’s another thing about Savannah… it’s a little quirky, but pretty and historical. Just like Agatha’s.”
Originally from Oklahoma farm country, after graduating from the University of Oklahoma, Farr discovered that his plans to become a police officer were thwarted due to his dyslexia.
Instead, “A friend asked if I really wanted to be shot for 28,000 a year. He and his wife had a pool house with an apartment in Orlando and said I should move there. They got me my job at Disney World in 1980.”
Farr started as a train conductor that summer where he earned six guest letters of praise. Disney promoted him to guest services and the journey took off from there.
“Over the years, I managed seven parades, three fireworks shows, and the Rose Parade,” Farr says proudly.
While Disney fostered Farr’s talents, creativity and customer service, entertaining people was always ingrained into his DNA.
“My mother and father were in the entertainment business, with my dad working in advertising and my mom working for a movie company. Both of them were artsy and very much like George Burns and Gracie Allen. If the laughter ever stopped, I was in trouble.”
Farr pauses and then chuckles in perfect GenX fashion.
“Did you get that? I’m from Bewitched because my name is Darin and my dad was in advertising, too. I kind of loved it growing up. Crazy, huh?”
Crazy…or destined, Darin Farr has certainly taken that love of laughter and entertainment the distance and made it his life’s passion when Agatha’s doors opened on April 11, 2023.
Since the opening, Farr says, “It’s been like an airplane, with the nose coming up off the ground, and it’s starting to really soar.”
For the theme, Farr originally wanted Harry Potter meets Agatha Christie, darkness with warmth.
“I said to this younger group [of people] that I wanted The Waltons glow. Sadly, they didn’t know what The Waltons was.” (The Waltons was an American television drama based on a rural, post-Depression family that ran on CBS from 1972-1981.)
“So, instead, we did the Disney flash where it’s bright outside and you come into a place that’s dark. It changes the mood immediately,” Farr notes. “We layered everything… rain sounds, thunder, old-timey music. There’s a warm fireplace. There’s a golden light. You know—and feel like—you’re in another place and time. It’s almost a speakeasy for coffee and mystery. We’ve blended the 20s, 30s, and 40s into one area.”
Farr chose the murder mystery theme because he loves a good mystery himself and it harkens back to growing up, watching mysteries on the big screen with his parents.
“Agatha Christie, Alfred Hitchcock, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle…they were the greats and I saw all the movies. We even have their autographs here,” he says as he shows off the treasured pieces hanging on the wall.
And, because of his years of stage acting and creating for Disney, the idea to have a coffee shop named after a serial killer just sparkled and came to life.
“We invented 'Agatha Harper,' the first female serial killer in the United States. Then, we did a murder board on her. As things stand, the detectives are trying to find her, but she’s escaped someplace they don’t know where. They also don’t know if she did the murder or was her brother or was she covering for him? The story is we are looking after her coffee shop for her while she’s on the run.”
Having worked at the happiest place on Earth, Farr brings that Disney attitude to Agatha’s.
“It’s all about the staff. Like any business, we’ve had our share of folks who didn’t work out, but after whittling it down, we’ve got the right team working together.” He laughs and adds. “For God’s sake, it’s coffee. How hard can this be? We all have some food and beverage experience behind us, as well as a love of the arts and entertainment.”
One such star employee is Eve Baker, who stands behind the fireplace, bar to serve customers. She considers herself, “the glue” of Agatha’s and there’s no argument from Farr.
“We have something wonderful here,” Baker says as she serves a steaming latte to a waiting customer.
“There’s kind of an indescribable quality here because we’re trying to go back a hundred years and give you an experience, but we also seem to have created an automatic atmosphere. It’s hard to put a finger on it, but it’s like a safe space. Everyone who comes into Agatha’s seems at peace and just wants to chill. I’ve never seen an unhappy person hanging out here.”
Like so many now-locals, Baker, too, is a transplant.
“I came from Cleveland in 2012 and never left.” Now, she’s a fixture at Agatha’s and excited about the future. “We’re always going to be improving and consistent with what we offer. We want to work with people, know what they want and like, and create a great experience. We want to make it fun for them.”
She continues, “People come in here and see it’s done just for them with that extra care and love that comes from good coffee, good pastries, and good customer service.”
It’s not only about the beverage menu, though. Agatha’s serves a selection of pastries as well as offering pizza and wings into the late-night hours. They can be found online, as well as through apps such as GrubHub and DoorDash for deliveries.
Farr stresses that as much as Savannah is a tourist-centric town, they did this for the people who live here.
“If the tourists find us, then hot-diggity, but we’ve priced Agatha’s for locals. We have a parking lot, so we want people to think of this as their hangout, their clubhouse. We want them to come and embrace what we’ve created for them. It’s special and unique. We welcome folks with an open heart and mind…just the way we have been received.”
Agatha’s Coffee and Tea House is located at 516 MLK Jr. Boulevard.