Another Nashville staple will soon be gone for good.
Music City has lost quite a few of the iconic businesses over the past few years – places like Hermitage Cafe, Mercy Lounge, and even Ernest Tubb’s Record Shop, a staple of downtown Nashville for decades.
And now, Arnold’s Country Kitchen will be closing its doors this weekend for the final time.
Arnold’s is an iconic meat-and-three, offering a variety of meats and sides to choose from every day, all for under $15 a plate. It’s staple of the Nashville food scene – one of the few restaurants that both locals and tourists alike can agree on. This place has served everybody from Guy Fieri, Dolly Parton and John Prine to hungover tourists looking to soak up last night’s alcohol.
According to Khalil Arnold, son of the restaurant’s founder Jack Arnold:
“Dierks Bentley came in here before he was famous. After playing Lower Broadway, he’d come in here hungover as hell.”
Originally opened 41 years ago, the restaurant has remained in the hands of family even as its founder has stepped away in recent years due to health issues. Now run by Jack’s wife Rose and their son Khalil, the restaurant has been a staple of the Nashville food scene and a comforting escape from all of the changes that the “new Nashville” has experienced over the past decade or so.
With all of the expensive new hipster restaurants that have opened in Nashville the past few years, Arnold’s is a no-frills, inexpensive blast from the past that serves up some of the best classic comfort food that you’ll find in the city. The roast beef, the fried chicken, the buffet of sides to choose from…it’s just down-home, southern cooking.
And it’s a staple of the Nashville food scene. In fact, years ago when the Arnolds were talking about a family member with cancer needed to take a cross-country trip for surgery, one of their customers overheard and offered to help out. So the family member ended up getting a ride on Jake Owen’s tour bus.
It’s just that kind of place.
But the Arnolds have decided that it’s time to step away – on their own terms.
According to an interview with the Nashville Scene, Rose Arnold decided to hang it up so that she can finally retire and take care of her husband, the restaurant’s founder:
“I’m tired. My back hurts like hell! I want to retire, and I’ve got a lot of people to take care of, including my husband.”
But Rose also admits that there are financial considerations in the timing of shutting down too: As property values around Nashville continue to skyrocket, she knew an increase in property taxes would be unsustainable for the low-cost, high-value eatery.
“The thing that kept pushing me was knowing the property tax increases were coming. That’s the straw that broke my back…The 2024 reassessment will just be unaffordable for us, and I wanted the chance for us to exit on our terms.”
The restaurant will close its doors for good this Saturday, so since announcing they would be closing, customers have lined up outside the restaurant for one last opportunity to grab their meat-and-three and say goodbye to the owners and employees who have served up that comfort food for so many years. (Even Dierks Bentley stopped by – but no word on whether he was hungover like he was all those years ago).
But the closing of Arnold’s may not be the end of the Arnold name – or food – in Nashville.
Khalil said that he’s working on a cookbook, and plans on opening his own restaurant serving some of the staples that kept customers coming back for 40 years.
For now though, Nashville is losing yet another iconic business – another piece of old Nashville becoming part of the history books of Music City.