Feeling inspired by the writing of an Orange Beach-based author, Sherry Aaron, with the help of her husband Wren, set out to create a space for the Auburn community to come together. In January 2023, the Aarons saw the opening of a project that has been in the works for just over a year: The Table Foundation.
While more commonly known as The Table, the local hangout is located just above where Cheeburger Cheeburger used to be and where Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint will be.
The novel that inspired Sherry’s idea of a simple community gathering spot is entitled “Just Jones: Sometimes a Thing is Impossible…Until It Is Actually Done” by Andy Andrews.
In the novel, the main character Jones opens a five-and-dime store in The Wharf of Orange Beach, Alabama. In Jones’ store, there is a table that customers begin to gather around. Sherry said people were drawn to the store because of it’s calming nature.
“The conversations that happened just brought wisdom and understanding to the community,” Sherry said. “The found community there, but they were drawn by the atmosphere.”
Following her reading of the novel, she felt moved to create a similar space in downtown Auburn. She said she felt it was an asset the city could use, and Wren knew of a space that could be utilized to bring her vision to fruition.
After Sherry went to Orange Beach herself and saw Andrews' mockup of the table in his Wisdom Harbour Studios, she contacted her husband about possibly looking into buying the space above Cheeburger Cheeburger.
They subsequently visited the space, and Sherry was immediately taken in by the front room.
“I came in, and I saw the front room, and I just knew in my heart it was the perfect place for that to happen,” Sherry said.
Following this visit, the Aarons contacted the owner of the space and told her about their idea for the space. The owner, having graduated from Auburn University as an English major and understanding the Aarons faith-based aspect for the space, befriended the Aarons and eventually leased the property to them.
Work on the space began in the summer of 2022. The Aarons, along with their two adult daughters, decided to form The Table Foundation. While inspired by the work of Andrews, the Aarons agreed that the name of the space became what it is because of their Christian faith.
“Wren got a devotional book by Louie Giglio called ‘At the Table with Jesus,’ and then our pastor did a sermon a few weeks later with the same title— ‘At the Table with Jesus,’” Sherry said. “We just decided it needed to be called ‘The Table’ because so much is significant about what happens around the table.”
The idea of forming a space for community was very important to the Aarons. They knew the community needed this with no strings attached—nothing for sale, no pressure to buy anything.
While nothing is sold there, it is lent to groups in need of a space to convene. For example, Opelika’s BigHouse Foundation has used the space for events, as well as Auburn’s Friends of Internationals branch.
For the Friends of Internationals, The Table hosted an event in which several local churches donated things like pillows, lamps and other home necessities for new international students, as well as older international students who were in need.
With such a deeply held belief that Auburn needed a community space, one might assume the Aarons were lifelong Auburn locals or Auburn graduates. However, Wren said that he and his wife were neither.
“We grew up close by. We’re from Eclectic, Alabama. But I grew up my whole life coming here as an Auburn fan,” Wren said. “A job change brought us to central Alabama, and we had several places we could have lived in, but we chose Auburn as a central location.”
Once here, the Aarons made connections with the community when they joined Church of the Highlands in 2007. After Wren retired from the Alabama Department of Education, he joined the staff at Church of the Highlands and is currently the church’s Auburn West Campus Pastor.
Sherry retired from her career in 2017. Now, the Aarons' lives revolve around their church, family, community and now, The Table.
“We simply want our door open,” Sherry said. “We want people to know that they simply have a place to come. There’s just something about this fast-paced world, and we need to look up from our phones—myself included—and we just need to sit at a table and discuss things. The table should be a safe place to do that.”
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Tucker Massey, sophomore in journalism, is a news editor for The Auburn Plainsman.