Loveless Cafe: A Nashville Legend
The Loveless Café sits on the old Nashville-Memphis highway, known these days as Highway 100, still serving its legendary fried chicken and biscuits to travelers from far and wide, or picnickers heading down the Natchez Trace.
The wait on a busy weekend (translate that to most weekends) can be long, but everyone agrees it’s worth it. Time to browse the small, quaint shops on the property, sample some blackberry or peach preserves in the Hams & Jams Country Market, or discover an old trinket or art treasure in Faithful Places. Kids can play artist in the Lil’ Biscuits Gift Store and add their colorings to the display wall.
It’s a bright Sunday afternoon, and several families enjoy a take out meal on picnic benches out front, watching tourists come and go and the occasional group of cyclists whizzing by on their Natchez Trace exercise jaunts.
“A few weeks ago we had a couple celebrating their 51st wedding anniversary,” relates Jesse, while taking us on a tour of the property. “They spent their wedding night here and have come back every single year on their anniversary. Each time they order the same meal of fried chicken and country ham.”
Gone are the days when the 14-room motel was in business, but its history lives on. Lon and Annie Loveless moved into the little old house around 1951, gradually turning the rooms of the house into a café, one by one. Lon built motel rooms on either side of the café to cater to travelers though these have now been converted into intriguing shops.
The Loveless has changed hands several times and was almost lost to a strip mall development in 2003, but locals are determined to keep this Nashville legend alive. Today many of the staff are third and fourth generation employees and job loyalty is so strong it’s been two years since a new waitress was hired.
We are given a sneak preview into the smokehouse and a sample of barbecue pork straight from the pit. Every morning at 2:30 a.m. the pitmaster arrives to start his day by removing the pork butts from the pit that have been cooking overnight. He quickly replaces with fresh pork butts that are coated in a dry rub, smoked for six hours, wrapped in foil and slow-cooked overnight until he comes back to start the process the next morning all over again. No wonder it’s fall-off-the-bone tender when it reaches your plate!
Our table with the red and white checkered tablecloth is ready. A plate of hot fluffy biscuits arrives with a friendly greeting and a selection of peach, blackberry and strawberry preserves – all homemade right here at the Loveless. Using a closely guarded recipe that has been preserved for decades, 7,000 biscuits are baked every day in the kitchen. Does that tell you how popular they are!
How on earth do you decide what to order when everything is made from scratch and comes with rave reviews? I solved that one. The Southern Sampler Platter. Fried chicken, meatloaf and pork barbecue, with green beans casserole and creamed corn. My friend, Lia, ordered catfish and two different sides, so we had it covered!
Every day of the week is a different Blue Plate Special that repeats weekly. Planning ahead – that’s what a lot of the regulars do. If I knew when the Blackberry Cobbler was on the dessert menu, that would be my day. It’s impossible to go wrong at the Loveless. Breakfast is served all day, every day, and the kitchen is open until the last person walks in the door at 9 p.m. and orders. The only problem you are likely to face is eating more Southern comfort food than you need! It’s true that the South is known for its sweet iced tea, but at the Loveless Café you can sample an even older legend – Tennessee Moonshine!
Yes, the Loveless is simple Southern hospitality at its finest. Come on down!
Share your memories of the Loveless in the comments!