The History and Evolution of Mount Pleasant Grille

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Mount Pleasant Grille
photo by Jim Wood

Located next to the Maury County Museum, the Mount Pleasant Grille (100 South Main Street), has been serving great Southern food with an upscale twist since December 2007. It is a place where people have come together to eat, to meet, and to celebrate. Over the last 15 years, the Grille has been carrying on a long-standing history of the building – service to the community.

100 Main Street’s History

The building was supposedly constructed in 1911, although some accounts say 1909. It began as George Brothers’ Department Store. Over time parts of it have housed other businesses, including a bank, a men’s clothing store, Mabel’s Beauty Shop, B & H Billiard Parlor, and Goodyear/Easy Pay Tire Store.

When it was a billiard parlor, said Tom Adkinson on MainStreet.com, “a basement card room behind the billiards parlor [had] a warning light that someone on the first floor could turn on if a police officer headed downstairs.”

Before it became Mount Pleasant Grille, the building was primarily home to Wright’s Pharmacy, and Barnes Drugs from the late 1940s until 1962.

According to tnvacations.com, long before people came here to eat, the upstairs was employed as a union hall for the phosphate industry, which was big in the area. Additionally, it was used for town meetings.

Grand Ole Opry members engaged the stage upstairs at one time. Adkinson tells of stars such as Roy Acuff and Minnie Pearl performing “in a big room on the second floor back in the day when country artists played schoolhouses, churches, town squares and flatbed trucks — anyplace a crowd could gather.”

In the 1980s, a pharmacist by the name of Lumpkin renovated the building. According to suzasippi.com, he then opened it as “Lumpy’s Malt Shop.” It was remodeled again in 1995 to resemble a 1950s- style soda shop.

Said one review from the late 1990s on roadsideamerica.com, “[Lumpy’s] has a real fire engine, player pianos, freak show banners, gas pumps, a missile, about 20 lava lamps and piles and piles of other junk just everywhere. We sat at a table that was a giant clock. We ate ‘virgin chicken strips’ and a Lumpy Burger covered in ‘lumpy juice.’ A very bizarre and frightening experience.” When Lumpy’s closed, the piles of junk were left behind for the next owner to deal with.

Mount Pleasant Revival Means New Restaurant in the Remade Space

As part of the Mount Pleasant Historic Commercial District, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. The Daily Herald tells of “the city and a group of investors operating under the name Maury County Investments “[building] a reputation of fostering locally-owned operations that are unique to the city that was once known as the ‘Phosphate Capital of World’.”

Jim Barrier purchased the building in 2006 to make it into an upscale eatery, according to Tennessee Crossroads. He spent 12 months renovating, restoring, and remodeling the building into what it is today. He got rid of all the items that terrified Lumpy’s visitors. Pulling out the drop ceiling, he found 14 foot ceilings covered in tin that he kept and repainted. He also held on to bits and pieces of its history as a pharmacy, like the black and white tile floor, and the 15-seat soda fountain.

It was in 2010 that Tennessee Crossroads made a visit to the Grille. With initial offerings created by then chef Carlos Garcia, Chef Ransom is now in charge of the kitchen, but the menu has kept the same feel, casual dining at lunch and more upscale dishes in the evening. Lunch includes soups, salads, sandwiches, barbecue and burgers with a series of old-style “meat and three” dishes that were very popular when the restaurant began. Dinner offers more gourmet versions of Southern classics, along with steaks and pasta. Their signature appetizer is a pimento cheese fritter served with sweet and spicy pepper jelly that is loved by all who taste them.

With a strong belief in supporting the community, the Grille buys food from local farmers, including beef from Tallgrass Meats in Columbia and lettuce from the Pig and Leaf farm in Summertown.

The old-fashioned soda fountain continues to stay open. “It is a nice thing to keep that alive,” said Tom Porter, who was the manager when Tennessee Crossroads came calling. “We have fantastic shakes, Sundays and banana splits, anything from the soda fountain days.” It is perhaps so good because they make their own ice cream under the Main Street Creamery name.

Current General Manager Angela Newman says in Adkinson’s article, “there are usually six to eight flavors on hand — peanut butter, Andes mint, butter pecan and blueberry cobbler are among the favorites, and they are for sale by the pint or gallon.”

An ever-changing list of homemade desserts are also part of the menu, as well as beer, wine and a full bar offering seasonal specialty drinks. Desserts are written up on the “special board” daily and can include pies, brownies, carrot cake, chocolate trifle, assorted cheese cakes, strawberry roll, bunt cakes and much more.

On Sundays, they serve an extensive brunch menu with a combination of breakfast favorites and a few lunch specials, like a burger. They have chicken and waffles, breakfast quiche, breakfast burritos, frittatas, full breakfasts and baskets of fresh, homemade muffins.

Changes and Additions Over Time

General Manager Donna Morency, who was interviewed by The Daily Herald in 2012, added another reason to visit the eatery — music. Music has been offered over the years both downstairs in the main dining room on weekends and on the old Opry stage upstairs.

Initially pulling in locals, the restaurant now draws coming up on half of its customers from all over the Southeast. It has become a tourist draw.

“I came here with a large group while in the area for a baseball tournament,” said one reviewer. “Very enjoyable visit. The smoked wings, spinach artichoke dip, and pimento cheese fritters were all delicious and a bit out of the ordinary. Chocolate-peanut butter milkshakes are amazing.”

In recent years, two event rooms have been added upstairs, going back in time to when the space was used for community meeting space. These event rooms are now used for everything from weddings to anniversaries to business meetings. And the whole exterior got a fresh coat of paint and an updated look.

“We are looking forward to continued growth,” said Porter in 2010, “and to positively contribute to Mount Pleasant, its growth and rebirth.” That statement is as valid today as it was 12 years ago, and many more anniversaries to come.

3 COMMENTS

  1. My Grandfather ran a speak easy in the basement! Was told much of it is still there but the stairs aren’t safe. Would love to see that restored!

  2. Nothing about the memorabilia Lumpy’s was frightening, bizarre, or unpleasant in any way. Also my grandfather was one of the George brothers.

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