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- [Announcer] Tennessee Crossroads is made possible in part by, this season, there's something small that makes a big difference. Flu vaccines protect ourselves and others. Flu vaccines are available. Learn more at tn.gov/health/fightflu. - This time on Tennessee Crossroads, we visit a unique food business incubator in East Nashville. Then with spring in the air, a little kayaking trip down the Harpeth River. We'll sample some elegant hospitality on the Cumberland Plateau, then soak up Memphis soul music history at the Stax Museum. Hi, everybody. I'm Joe Elmore. That's the lineup for this edition of Tennessee Crossroads. Wouldn't it be fun to open your own restaurant, be your own boss, make money making food dishes? Well, consider this. About 60% of new restaurants fail during their first year of business. Also, you don't necessarily need a brick and mortar location to market your food these days. Now, those are a couple of reasons why a veteran Nashville chef found a new recipe for success called Citizen Kitchens. Here in the basement of Hunter Station in East Nashville, you'll find a special kind of kitchen, 14,000 square feet of kitchen, to be exact. And at any moment, you'll find a variety of food entrepreneurs working independently yet together, all thanks to a clever concept called Citizen Kitchens. - We carry all the big expenses. We build the kitchens out and buy the equipment and supply all the cleaning chemicals and towels and all of those things so people can really show up with their knives and their food and start a business. Our main kitchen area. Down this hallway we have most of our storage, all of our walk-ins. - [Joe] Laura Wilson has spent most of her life inside restaurant kitchens working as a chef in both New Orleans and Nashville. In recent years though, she observed a trend in non-traditional food vendors targeting home delivery service, farmers markets and even Meals on Wheels. - Food trucks are a big part of our client base. Every food truck that you see in Nashville needs to have a kitchen home base that has city water, that has a dishwasher, that has all of those other walk-ins and walk-in freezers and things that they need to store their food safely. We have caterers, bakers and also food manufacturers, people that make spaghetti sauce. We have a lot of hot sauce vendors. - [Joe] Each client member books kitchen time in advance, then shows up with their ingredients and knives. Laura furnishes everything else, including 11 walk-ins for storage. On our visit, the kitchen was bustling with an array of activity. For example, the owner of Lovin' From the Oven was busy baking cakes, while here a cook from a business called Cocorico worked on French cuisine. These ladies from Radical Rabbit were turning jackfruit into vegan soul food, while an outfit called Placemat was busy with catering dishes. - Ghost kitchens basically have our kitchen as a home base, and then they serve through third party delivery services. Kate is here. - Hello. - And she has a company called Katiepies, and they make hand pies and all cookies, full pies and all kinds of amazing treats. If you see Kate, she's got more than one thing in the oven right now. I do a lot of consulting with clients. A lot of it just comes with having a day to day relationship with folks, just being here. I'm a very enthusiastic taste tester. - [Joe] Of course, many aspiring entrepreneurs still dream of opening that brick and mortar restaurant, but rather than going deep into debt to see if it's gonna work, they can explore their potential here. - That's a hard thing to do when you're not sure if the business is going to make it or be successful, so we're not just a place for people to succeed. We're also a place for people to kind of fail gently. - [Joe] Many of Laura's former clients have gone on to open their own stores in the Nashville area. The Brightside Bakeshop and KOKOS Ice Cream are prime examples. While Laura hates to see them go, she loves the reason why they're leaving. - This is my favorite part of the whole thing. I'm glad it's all worked, but that's what makes me happy at the end of the day. - [Joe] To make the operation run efficiently, it takes a lot of state-of-the art equipment, such as 19 ovens, a dozen mixers and much more. That's where Grant, Laura's husband, comes in. It's his job to keep the trains running, so to speak. - I was a little scared at first. I kind of kept a job and kept the bills going while she worked through all the troubles and we got this thing rolling, and now it's going. I mean, it's pretty exciting. - [Joe] Laura Wilson once loved creating delicious food for people. Now she loves helping newer cooks create their own food businesses. For her, it's just another phase of life in the industry of service. - [Laura] You know, I started out in the service industry, and it's called that for a reason. People that are lifelong service industry people get the joy out of taking care of people and being of service, and this is just the newest way that I can be of service to people. - The famous environmentalist John Muir once said that in every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks. That goes for paddling through nature as well, as Cindy Carter recently discovered with her trusty kayak on the beautiful Harpeth River. - [Cindy] In a busy world, the path to inner peace just may be a peaceful waterway, one that meanders through middle Tennessee. The Harpeth River is that mostly gentle ride that beckons kayakers, canoers, anglers and anyone else longing to unplug. A day on the Harpeth is a beautiful alternative to the daily grind. - Life is hard enough, and if you can find a place where you can find solace or peace, even in everything that's going on in the world today, we can come here and it seems like nothing is going on at all. - [Cindy] Jennifer England and Paige Sigman are frequent floaters on the Harpeth. - I like the scenery. I like that it's constantly flowing. - [Cindy] The ladies join a multitude of locals who never pass up the opportunity to slow things down. - [Jennifer] We prefer to get into a flowing river so that we don't have to worry about actually paddling. We get out here to just relax and enjoy ourselves and talk about life and solve all the world's problems. - [Cindy] The Harpeth stretches more than 100 miles. Its proximity to Nashville and Franklin, Tennessee means plenty of people test these waters where the river flows through Cheatham, Davidson and Williamson counties. - There's enough rapids to where it's fun, but it's not overly, it's not too much for some people. - [Cindy] The Harpeth's fun for all ages reputation. - Foggy Bottom. - [Cindy] Keeps kayak and canoe rental businesses like Foggy Bottom pretty busy. - Could you also give me your phone number, please? - [Cindy] Especially in the summertime. - On an average summer day, you could describe it as a big wide creek, because 99% of it you could wade it. There's a few places over your head, but most of it is waist deep. - [Cindy] Owner Pat Hutcherson started with six canoes and never dreamed her little business would grow this big. Her employee, Mason Smith says these days, people from everywhere want to play on the Harpeth. - The majority are family, but we do have some country folk that come out and just want to have fun, and then city people who've never done it before, and that's the most interesting. We even have some people out of the country who come here, and it's really fun. - It's hard to balance, okay. - The steady stream of paddlers launch into the river and let the current carry them away for as long as they like. The Harpeth is scenic. No truly, it is. The state has officially designated it as so. And not only that, this river has played a significant role in Tennessee's rich history. For hundreds of years, the Harpeth was an important resource for Native Americans. Later, the area's iron industry grew strong along its banks. The river also played a prominent role in the Battle of Franklin. Though time moved on beyond the Harpeth's banks, when you're on the water, it seems to stand still. - [Mason] When you're on the river, no one has anything to worry about because they're just thinking oh, we're just on the river. They're not worried about work or school or anything like that. - [Cindy] Our Tennessee Crossroads crew wholeheartedly agrees. This assignment felt little like work and more like fun as we captured the sounds and sites this river is famous for. - There's a lot of hawks that fly by. I've seen tons of turtles on the logs. It's really cute. A few snakes that I don't want to see, but there's been a lot of wildlife. - If you go early, you'll see the deer and all the cranes, what else? Groundhogs, you'll see everything. Oh, and the bald eagles. That's what you'll see if you go early. - [Cindy] And as cool as the critters and changing scenery can be, it's also fun to cool off and take a dip whenever the mood strikes, or pull over for a picnic on a gravel bar or sit back and soak up the sun. Simple pleasures are simply the best. - [Pat] Fish flopping is a sound for me personally that I find to be very therapeutic, that little ploop noise that they make when they flip over, so it's just fun to be out in wildlife. - [Cindy] So when you feel like leaving the fast track, the scenic Harpeth River is only a stone's throw away. The gentle journey past wildlife and picturesque scenery could be the escape you're looking for. - Thanks, Cindy. When you're driving down the interstate, you pass hundreds of hotels, which from the highway all seem pretty much the same. Go a few miles off the beaten path though, and you might be surprised. Rob Wilds takes us to the relaxing and enchanting Sewanee Inn. - [Rob] It's only a few miles off the highway, but the Sewanee Inn looks like it belongs somewhere else, the English countryside, perhaps. The inn is owned by the University of the South, and General Manager Michael Beutel says it was built to stand out. - The university had a vision to build a grand hotel, something that would act as a hospitality gateway I suppose to the university for visiting parents and prospective students to visit. We started construction, and we opened in May of 2014. - [Rob] Much of the material used to build the inn actually came from university property. - [Michael] Much like the university, it's the stone exterior, as you can see, a lot of wood. The University of the South is on what they call The Domain, which is 14,000 acres of woodland, and most of our hardwood floors were all harvested from The Domain. The campus is very sustainable. - [Rob] So the inn was built to have a classic feel and to make you want to take a breath and relax. - We have 43 rooms and suites. We have golf side rooms and avenue view rooms. The golf side rooms have balconies or patios overlooking the golf course here, the Course at Sewanee, beautiful views. All of the rooms are equipped with a 42 inch flat screen TV, Keurig coffee maker, a wet bar, a refrigerator, iron, makeup mirror, so they're very well equipped. - [Rob] The kitchen is well equipped too, a full service restaurant. The Chef, George Stevenson describes it as a casual fine dining experience. Now George is a graduate of the University of the South, and some of his menu choices harken back to his school days. - Late night we'd head to Monteagle to the Oak Terrace truck stop to get chicken strips, biscuits and gravy and trucker specials and all. - [Rob] So you figured you'd continue that tradition here. - [George] Had to be. - Well, the restaurant isn't open for those post-midnight food runs, but it's open much of the rest of the time. - [George] We do breakfast and we do dinner service seven nights a week, and then we open for lunch three days on the weekends. - [Rob] You don't have to be staying at the inn to enjoy the restaurant and its unusual style. - [George] Faculty and students really like that it's nice and the food is well prepared and served. It's very good food, but it's also a casual environment. - [Rob] So you've eaten well at the restaurant and now it's time for some exercise, right? Sure. Well, next door is the course at Sewanee. There's been a golf course here since 1915, but this one is right up to date. And according to David Owens, who is Assistant Golf Coach at the University of the South, it's a good challenge and a beautiful location for golfers who come here. - There are several sets of tees that can present a challenge for any skilled, any level of golfer. It's also just beautiful views off of the bluff from holes three and five. The par threes have cascading greens that look like you hit it just off the top of the mountain. It's a beautiful view, especially in the spring and the fall and all through the summer. We experience good weather. Being our altitude, we're usually a few degrees cooler than some of the areas that are in the valley. - [Rob] Just like the inn itself, the course is open to anyone who wants to give it a try. - [David] We are open to the public. However, we do offer memberships and passes available to the general public, as well as alumni and students and faculty members, and lessons. We have three PGA pros here that provide lessons Tuesday through Sunday. - One of the best things about staying at the Sewanee Inn is where it is, on the campus of the University of the South at Sewanee, and from the campus, you get views like this, beautiful, beautiful. The campus itself is beautiful too, and quaint and unique. You can get tours. They set them up at the inn. You should really see it. - [Michael] The architecture throughout campus, the Gothic architecture is phenomenal and quite a sight with All Saints Chapel and all of the other buildings around campus. It presents a unique and very eye catching facility for visitors that haven't been here before and the ones that continue to come back. - [Rob] Come back and leave renewed. - [Michael] I would like them to leave here feeling rested, rejuvenated, kind of having unplugged from the busy race of life. - [Rob] That's pretty easy to do when you're rejuvenated at the Sewanee Inn. - Tennessee has a rich musical history, and no city plays a more important role in that history than Memphis. Of course, Sun Records was the birthplace of rock and roll, but Stax Records had soul. Danielle Allen takes us down memory lane with a visit to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. ♪ These arms of mine, they are lonely ♪ - [Danielle] From the unmistakable voice of Otis Reading. ♪ Who is the man that would risk his neck ♪ ♪ For his brother man ♪ ♪ Shaft, can you dig it ♪ - [Danielle] To the undeniable funk of Isaac Hays, Stax Records played a short but vital role in soul music. What started as a small record company ran by a brother and sister duo in the 50s grew into a distinctive sound recognized around the world. This was where unknown artists became stars, and their songs defined an era. Although it's been decades since the records were recorded, their music plays on. - Memphis is still an active, vibrant music community. It's everywhere, and so I think that's one of the things that we try to do here at the museum, is not just talk about what's in the past but also what's happening now, too. - [Danielle] Jeff Kollath is the Executive Director of the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. It opened in 2003 and sits at the original location of Stax Records. When visitors go inside, they'll find a collection of more than 2,000 artifacts and exhibits outlining the history of soul music. - [Jeff] Much of what we have on display is permanent. It's part of our permanent exhibition. It's been here since the museum opened in 2003, but we do two change things out occasionally. Because of our small staff size, we're not an active collecting organization nearly as much as we would like to be or should be. Hopefully that will change soon, but we're able to change some things out here and there and put out some new things. But really what we're doing is trying to, with the permanent exhibition, anything we bring in that's new or different is really just further enhancement of the story, maybe tell the Stax story in a little bit different way. The Stax story is so broad. There's so much there. For what we do in our exhibition here we do a great job telling, I guess you wouldn't say one version of the story, but several stories within there, but there are many more to tell. - [Danielle] Those stories are told through elaborate stage outfits, music awards and pictures that take you back in time. Many of those images highlight how Stax Records broke the mold in music and society. - Stax is unique for a lot of reasons, but of course the one that's part of our real core story is that this was an integrated workplace at a time when segregation was rampant here in Memphis, Tennessee and throughout the south. Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton created, made a very intentional decision to create Stax Records and to run Stax Records in the way that they did, and they're heroes for that. - [Danielle] Now if you want to get a visual of the impact of Stax Records, take a stroll down this hallway. This is the Hall of Fame of Records, which represents all the music released from 1957 until 1975. That includes about 280 LPs and 900 singles from performers like Sam and Dave, Rufus Thomas and the Staple Singers, and many of the people on these walls combine different styles of music to create that Stax sound. - [Jeff] Something that we're all pretty passionate about here is that Memphis music is the genre. There are not genres within Memphis music. Everybody knew everybody. Most everybody could play, did different types of music. Isaac Hays was as inspired by the Grand Ole Opry as he was by gospel music growing up. I mean, it's a pretty remarkable thing to be able to put all of that together and to create that Memphis sound. - [Danielle] Speaking of Isaac Hays, he's one musician you'll see a lot of here. There are several items pertaining to the entertainer. However, one in particular drives a lot of traffic in the museum. - [Jeff] '72 custom Cadillac, peacock blue, 24 karat gold plating and accessories, white fur carpet or faux fur in the interior, which I'm from the north. That would not work in the north. It gets pretty slushy up there. But TV in the front seat, refrigerator and bar in the back. It's a remarkable piece. - [Danielle] This unforgettable car is a conversation starter among older visitors who remember seeing it around town, and for students taking their first drive through Stax memory lane. It's one of the many ways the museum engages a younger generation. - [Jeff] Really diving deep into the biographies of the performers and the people that worked here. It's very impactful. So many of them are kids from south Memphis, and we get a lot of school groups that come from the elementary schools, middle schools and high schools within five, 10 miles of us. So I think those stories, personal stories really work well, and I think just engaging them in a level that we really haven't done before. We have a new educator that started last year. She's completely revamped our school tour program. We've seen more school tours this year than we ever have before. - [Danielle] The museum isn't the only one working to get the attention of youngsters. - I came because I saw a lot of things that I would like for my grandchildren to see. I would like to take pictures and let them know how it used to be, what a reel to reel is, what a dial tone telephone is, the old stuff. Even those little Coke bottles over there. That's what I wanted them to see, and plus I wanted to reminisce. - [Danielle] There's definitely a lot of reminiscing at the Stax Museum, but this is also a historical place that embraces the future. ♪ Squeeze her, don't tease her, never leave her ♪ ♪ You got to love her ♪ ♪ Try a little tenderness ♪ - [Danielle] The museum is part of the Soulsville Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization that enriches the lives of young people through the Stax Music Academy and the Soulsville Charter School. With the work of the museum and the schools, they're keeping the spirit of Stax Records alive one note at a time. - [Jeff] We want to be just like the record company. We want our doors to be as open as possible and we want people to come in and experience this story, especially here in Memphis. We think it's important that Memphians know this story and be proud of this story, 'cause again, it only could have happened here and it only happened here. - Thanks Danielle, and thank you folks for joining us the past 30 minutes. Hope you had a good time. And by the way, why don't you check out our website, TennesseeCrossroads.org when you get a chance, follow us on Facebook, of course, and we'll see you next week. - [Announcer] Tennessee Crossroads is made possible in part by, this season there's something small that makes a big difference. Flu vaccines protect ourselves and others. Flu vaccines are available. Learn more at tn.gov/health/fightflu.
March 17, 2022
Season 35 | Episode 32
Joe Elmore visits a unique food business incubator in East Nashville. Cindy Carter paddles her way down the Harpeth River. Rob Wilds experiences elegant hospitality on Monteagle Mountain. And Danielle Allen soaks in the Memphis soul music history at the Stax Museum.