31 Days of Nashville – Mall Memories

14 - Mall Memories

All across America, the concept of “the mall” is changing. It’s not just in Nashville. Most everywhere is going away from the one indoor building holding multiple stores to the multiple buildings in an area where the stores are all outside. It’s almost like the days before malls where everything was in a strip mall. I can honestly say that I am not a big fan of the new outdoor mall concept. I miss going into one building to visit several stores all inside, away from the heat, the cold or the rain. I suppose I can see the appeal of driving to the one store you need to go into, and not having to walk past several other stores to get there, but if there’s a second store you need to visit, you’re probably going to drive there instead of walk. Of course, as I say that I miss the old-style malls, I haven’t really been much of a mall shopper in the past several years, anyway, and do a good bit of my shopping online now. I guess either way, I’m not walking as much as I used to walk 🙂

Anyway, the idea of this blog post is not to debate which style is better. I wanted to relive the memories I have of the great times I had when going to the mall. In the 80’s and 90’s when I was a teenager, THE Mall was THE place to be. Early in my youth, Nashville had 3 major malls, Hickory Hollow Mall, Rivergate Mall and One Hundred Oaks Mall.

One Hundred Oaks Mall was the first to start fading away, and tried a few times to revamp and come back, but never quite recovered. My memories of One Hundred Oaks go back way far and are a bit blurry, but I do remember Harveys had the giant carousel horse hanging on the wall beside the entrance to the store. The last time I remember One Hundred Oaks being a mall was in the very late 90’s, and even then about the only store worth visiting was the video game store to trade in your old NES games for newer games. One Hundred Oaks is now home to Vanderbilt Health on the second floor, where many of the outpatient clinics of Vanderbilt are located. It’s interesting to go inside now if you have a memory of the old mall, because it still kinda sorta has the same look. The first floor that faces outside has several stores and is pretty much like the outdoor malls that are more popular today.

I grew up living closer to Hickory Hollow Mall, so we went there more often than the others. I remember we almost always went into the mall through the back entrance of JC Penney. It didn’t matter if we needed to shop in JCP or not; we just always entered through that door. 9th grade was about the time that I started noticing fashion and no longer wanted to get my clothes at KMart and WalMart, so the mall was where you had to go to get name brand clothes, like Skidz and I.O.U….oh, and Hypercolor! I never talked my mom into buying Skidz pants but I did have two I.O.U. shirts that I treasured. I also wanted some Doc Martens, but my parents seem to think that was way too much money to spend on fake combat boots, so I inherited a pair of my dad’s old combat boots that he had retired for a newer pair for his Army National Guard job. David said recently that real combat boots were probably much more cool than Doc Martens, but my teenage mind didn’t quite see it back then. I haven’t been to Hickory Hollow Mall in at least 5 years (maybe more). It started going downhill and attracting criminal acts. They are trying a comeback again this year with Global Mall at the Crossings, with a branch of Nashville State Community College one of the old anchor stores. A branch of the Nashville Public Library and an ice rink managed by the Nashville Predators is also planned for the future.

Rivergate Mall is where I frequented more often after I started driving. Most of my high school friends lived on the north side of Mount Juliet (where I lived on the south side), so Rivergate was closer when I was with them. Rivergate had most of the same stores that Hickory Hollow had. To my knowledge, Rivergate Mall has never shut down, even temporarily like Hickory Hollow, but I believe they are also trying to regain popularity.

Other malls, have come and gone in the Nashville area, but these three are the malls of my memories. What mall memories do you have in Nashville or where you live? 

This post is part of a series I am writing, 31 Days of Nashville, where I am introducing several awesome places that make Nashville a great place to live and visit. Each day of the week has a different theme, and I am trying to focus on those hidden gems that aren’t as well known but just as worthy. 

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31 Days of Nashville – The Loveless Cafe

13 - Loveless Cafe

The Loveless Cafe is another one of those timeless favorites that both tourists and residents of Nashville enjoy visiting.  It’s a bit off the beaten path and outside of Nashville proper, but we still claim it as one of Nashville’s treasured restaurants.

The sign says it’s a Cafe and Motel, but the rooms haven’t been open for guests since 1985. The Cafe has quite an interesting history, going back to the 1950’s, and the biscuit recipe has been carried along since then. The biscuits are among the best you’ll ever have, along with the country ham and pancakes.

Just like most breakfast venues that draw tourists, the weekends usually involve quite a wait to get a table, but during the week it’s much more quiet. The last few years have seen the area expand to include shops to buy jams, jellies, country ham and other food products. The Loveless Barn is also home to live music, with a public television and radio-broadcasted concert series held every Wednesday.

David and I celebrated this year’s Pancake Day at The Loveless with red velvet pancakes and bacon.

If you’ve never been to the Loveless, you should add it to your list of places to visit in Nashville for some good southern cooking.

The Loveless Cafe
8400 Tennessee Hwy 100
Nashville, TN 37221
(615) 646-9700

This post is part of a series I am writing, 31 Days of Nashville, where I am introducing several awesome places that make Nashville a great place to live and visit. Each day of the week has a different theme, and I am trying to focus on those hidden gems that aren’t as well known but just as worthy. 

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31 Days of Nashville – Nashville Rollergirls

12 - Nashville Rollergirls

The Nashville Rollergirls are Nashville’s finest women on wheels. The roller derby of the 70’s and 80’s has made a comeback in the last 5 years or so, and it has turned into quite an athletic sport. It’s highly competitive, but it’s not quite the hair-pulling, name-calling, catty sport of 30 years ago. It’s much more civilized now.

I am not a sports enthusiast AT.ALL. You won’t find me watching football on the weekends or baseball during the World Series or any other sport, but there’s something about roller derby that changed that, at least when it comes to watching roller derby. The first bout I attended was in 2009 after seeing an event posted at a pizza place in town. It was shortly after my birthday, and I told David that I wanted to go for my birthday. At that time, the Rollergirls played at the sports arena at the Nashville Fairgrounds. The audience was such a grand mix of people from all ages and groups that I never once felt out of place. Oh, and the derby bout was an amazing experience. I was hooked!

Since that first bout, we have seen the Nashville Rollergirls compete with women from other cities all over the US. Their fan base has outgrown the fairgrounds arena, and moved to the Municipal Auditorium where there’s more room for more people without being crowded on bleachers.

It takes watching a few bouts to really understand the rules of the game, but what sport isn’t without complicated rules? Once we started to understand the rules, we really got into the competition and started identifying our favorite players from the Nashville team, like Lady Fury, Hildabeast and Ramb0 Samb0 (Hildabeast has retired and Ramb0 Samb0 moved from the area).

For the younger girls ages 10-17, there’s also the Nashville Junior Roller Derby team. They play some during halftime at the Nashville Rollergirls bouts, and it’s amazing to see them play, too!

This year’s roller derby season is over, but you can catch them again next year starting in February through August for regular games and September for playoffs.

This post is part of a series I am writing, 31 Days of Nashville, where I am introducing several awesome places that make Nashville a great place to live and visit. Each day of the week has a different theme, and I am trying to focus on those hidden gems that aren’t as well known but just as worthy. 

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31 Days of Nashville – Shrine Circus

11 - Shrine Circus

The Al Menah Shrine Circus is in town this weekend! I have SO MANY awesome memories of going to the circus as far back as my memory goes. My Dad has been a Shriner for more than 30 years, so it was an annual tradition for us to go to the circus almost every year.  Even as an adult, the kid in me comes out when I attend the circus.

My favorite acts are usually any act that involves dogs and the silly and kooky clown antics between the main acts. Some people are frightened of clowns, but not me! There’s almost always at least one death-defying act toward the end, often involving human cannons or motorcycles high in the air. And don’t forget the high wire and trapeze acts!

As a kid, I always seemed to talk my parents into getting me some sort of toy that lights up, because I wouldn’t dare miss the “winky blinky light show” where they turn out all the lights, and we get to show off our new toy to everyone around. More than 30 years later, they still do this, and it’s still pretty awesome for me, though I have only been an observer and not a participant for the last several years.

Unfortunately, other plans are keeping us from attending this year, but hopefully we’ll be able to attend next year. The circus is in town through Sunday, with one show Friday night, three shows on Saturday, and two shows on Sunday. If you’ve never been to the circus, what are you waiting for?

Al Menah Shrine Circus
Municipal Auditorium
417 Fourth Avenue North
Nashville, Tennessee 37201

This post is part of a series I am writing, 31 Days of Nashville, where I am introducing several awesome places that make Nashville a great place to live and visit. Each day of the week has a different theme, and I am trying to focus on those hidden gems that aren’t as well known but just as worthy. 

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31 Days of Nashville – Food Trucks

10 - Food Trucks

A few years ago, the Food Truck craze made its way to Nashville, and it only seems to get bigger every year. I guess food trucks aren’t a new concept for big cities, but I hadn’t really heard of them until 2010-ish. I remember I kept seeing people talk about The Grilled Cheeserie here there and everywhere online, but it was still a while until we really found out what it was all about. Now it seems like there’s at least a food truck or three are at most every outdoor event in and around the Nashville area…and I’m not complaining! I’ll talk about a few of my favorites.

The Grilled Cheeserie

The Grilled Cheeserie is the first food truck I heard about in Nashville, and it was the first food truck that we had the pleasure of experiencing. I remember the first time we tried, we heard that they were going to be at an event at Third Man Records, so we tried to seek them out in that area, only to find that the area was jam packed with people. We had brought Shelton along that day without a leash, because we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into and thought maybe we’d be able to just walk up to the truck, order and leave.

A few months later we finally had our first bite of some delicious cheese goodness when they were set up in Centennial Park. We came prepared that time (without Shelton) and with cash (because ‘back in the day’, they only took cash). The experience was pretty much awesome, and we’ve been back several other times. They usually have a Melt of the Moment, which is often times some strange concoction of ingredients loaded onto a grilled cheese sandwich, obviously), but I wouldn’t let the odd combination scare you away unless one of the ingredients is totally not to your tastes. The combination may seem weird, but the flavors usually go together well.

Hoss’ Loaded Burgers

We discovered Hoss’ Loaded Burgers at an annual event at Second Harvest Food Bank every year on Valentine’s Day. We’ve been two years in a row, but 2013 was the first year Hoss’ showed up, and the first time we had the Hoss’ experience. They serve some seriously delicious burgers. They have a regular menu, and they usually have a special burger at different events. The burger at the Valentine’s Day event was the “King”, which was Thick Sliced Bacon topped with Grilled Banana, Creamy Peanut Butter and Strawberry Preserves. It sounds weird, I know. I get it! But like The Grilled Cheeserie, the mix of ingredients really deliver. If different ingredients on your burger aren’t your thing, they do have normal burgers that you should give a try. Really, you should. The parmesan fries are definitely worth trying, as well.

Just Like Nannie Fixed It

Food trucks in Nashville aren’t all about gourmet cooking. Just Like Nannie Fixed It is where to get your home cooking in a roaming food truck. Nannie was at an event downtown last year after church where the lines were long but the wait was shorter than expected. Maybe they were prepared to feed the 5,000 with chicken and dumplings instead of bread and fish, because we got our food fast and hot. As a southern girl, I can be picky about my country cooking, but Nannie represented well. And the banana pudding? You know it!

The Cupcake Bus

If there’s sandwiches, burgers and home cooking in food trucks, there has to be a few with dessert, right? The Cupcake Bus is the food truck version of the Cupcake Collection. It’s not too hard to make a regular cupcake, but it’s a little more difficult to make an exceptional cupcake. With several flavors to choose from, I had a hard time making a decision on what to order. What do you do in that situation? Well, you order a few flavors to share with your husband over a couple of days. I almost always go for Wedding Cake flavors, but I also went for the Sweet Potato flavor because I have a hard time turning away sweet potatoes. My husband is not on the sweet potato fan page, but he did share the Sweet Lemonade cupcake with me. So delicious! If you can’t catch them by bus, you can always catch them at their standing location in Germantown. You won’t regret it!

Nashville Food Truck Association

I could go on and on about other food trucks, but I’ll just point you to the Nashville Food Truck Association website where you can see ALLLL the food trucks in the Nashville area. There’s even an app for your phone so you can see where the various trucks are visiting each day.

Also, Biscuit Love Truck, I am looking for you next! 

This post is part of a series I am writing, 31 Days of Nashville, where I am introducing several awesome places that make Nashville a great place to live and visit. Each day of the week has a different theme, and I am trying to focus on those hidden gems that aren’t as well known but just as worthy.

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31 Days of Nashville – Nashville City Cemetery

8 - Nashville City Cemetery

Photo Credit: Wayne Hsieh

Okay, I get it. It might be creepy to list a cemetery on a list of what makes Nashville awesome, but the Nashville City Cemetery truly belongs on this list and not for any sort of ghostly or spooky reasons. It’s really all about the history that now resides in the cemetery. Since opening in 1822, the cemetery has become home to many famous Nashvillians and Tennesseeans, including four of Nashville’s founders, James & Charlotte Robertson and John & Ann Robertson Cockrill (you’ve probably seen their names around town on streets and buildings). There’s also one of Tennessee’s Governors, William Carroll, 15 of Nashville’s Mayors, and many other residents of the area. President James K Polk was even buried there briefly (he was later buried at his home, then moved again to the capitol in Nashville).

So maybe visiting a cemetery isn’t on your list of places to see in Nashville, and I get it. I don’t know that I would have ever visited the cemetery if it wasn’t for the annual Living History Tour that is held in the cemetery every fall. I’ve been a few times over the years, and it’s always a great experience. Each year, they arrange several historical interpreters to represent some of the cemetery’s residents and tell their life story.

The 2013 tour has already passed, but there are guided tours regularly scheduled about once a month during the warmer months (April to October). There are also clean up days once a month to help keep the cemetery in good shape to enjoy for many more years.  Check out the Events page for a list of all upcoming events. The cemetery is open every day from dawn to dusk.

Nashville City Cemetery
1001 Fourth Avenue South
Nashville TN 37203

This post is part of a series I am writing, 31 Days of Nashville, where I am introducing several awesome places that make Nashville a great place to live and visit. Each day of the week has a different theme, and I am trying to focus on those hidden gems that aren’t as well known but just as worthy. 

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31 Days of Nashville – Pied Piper

7 - Pied Piper

 

The Pied Piper Eatery

David and I love going to The Pied Piper Eatery, but we love recommending out of town guests to visit the eatery even more. I can’t remember exactly how we found out about it, but I think it was through Yelp. It truly is one of those hidden gems in Nashville because it’s a little off the beaten path in the Ingleweood neighborhood of East Nashville. The theme is Rock-n-Roll diner with both the decor and the dishes they offer. Where else can you get a Fleetwood Mac ‘n Cheese and a Jerry Garcia Frito Pie in the same place? The decor is a random sort of mix, probably from yard sales and thrift stores, but it lends a certain charm to the place. Other dishes that are worth trying are the Monty “Python” Cristo, the Dolly Parton Chicken Melt (a giant breast of chicken, of course), and the fried green tomatoes when they are in season (though I can’t remember their catchy name).

And ladies, especially those who were tweens in the late 80’s-early 90’s – be sure to check out the ladies room. I won’t spoil the surprise 🙂

The Pied Piper Eatery
1601 Riverside Dr
Nashville TN 37216
(615) 228-2795

Photo Credit: The Pied Piper Creamery

The Pied Piper Creamery

Also in East Nashville in the Five Points District is The Pied Piper Creamery. The Creamery owner and the Eatery owner are sisters. This is THE place in Nashville to get homemade ice cream in some really awesome flavor combinations that you won’t find anywhere else. They have 24 “punny” flavors at all times, with a few that are permanent fixtures, such as Trailer Trash (Vanilla with Oreo, Twix, Butterfinger, Nestle Crunch, Snickers, M&Ms, and Reese’s Pieces…it’s like all of the guilty pleasures in one) and Some Like It Hot (Chocolate with cinnamon and cayenne pepper). I’ve tried several of their other flavors, as well, and have never been disappointed. The neighborhood is adorable and quaint, and a great place to be with some ice cream on a pleasant day. 

You can also get some flavors of the Creamery ice cream at the Eatery, but we usually end up visiting both establishments when we’re in the area.

The Pied Piper Creamery
114 South 11th Street
Nashville, TN 37206
(615) 227-4114

This post is part of a series I am writing, 31 Days of Nashville, where I am introducing several awesome places that make Nashville a great place to live and visit. Each day of the week has a different theme, and I am trying to focus on those hidden gems that aren’t as well known but just as worthy. 

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31 Days of Nashville – Memories of Opryland

7 Opryland

Once a week I’m going to post about a memory I have of Nashville. I wish I could say that Opryland is more than just a memory and that you could enjoy some amusement park fun, but Opryland closed it’s gates for the last time in 1997 and Opry Mills mall took it’s place a few years later.

I’m far from the only Nashville native who wishes we still had a theme park instead of a mall. I have many fond memories of summer days spent riding the Wabash Cannonball, Grizzly River Rampage and Flume Zoom (known to the kids as the Log Ride), then ending the day with a funnel cake. I remember driving the Tin Lizzies as a kid and thinking how cool it was to be driving a car! And how cool was it to ride the Sky Ride high in the sky to get to the other side of the park.

Then later, they started adding bigger rides like Chaos, The Screaming Delta Demon and the Hangman. These arrived in just the right time of my life as a teenager excited to ride bigger and better rides with even more adrenaline rush thrills.

Even better than going once or twice a year was getting a Season Pass. My home church took the youth group once a week, which allowed us the freedom to roam the park to our heart’s desire, as long as we were back on the bus by the end of the day.

When the powers that be decided to close Opryland and turn it into a mall, it seemed like no one in Nashville supported this crazy idea. We already had malls but no other theme park. Why did we need yet another mall.

Almost 20 years later, most residents still feel this way, and last year we almost got our wish when Dolly Parton announced that she was going to buy the land across from Opry Mills and turn it into a theme park similar to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. This was exciting news for me and most everyone else in Nashville, but the deal fell through, and Dolly backed out.

We still hope Dolly or someone else will revisit the idea and that one day Nashville will be home to another theme park, but for now we’ll just have to live the with awesome memories and experiences we had at Opryland.

Did you ever visit Opryland when it was still a theme park? What was your favorite ride or favorite memory? 

This post is part of a series I am writing, 31 Days of Nashville, where I am introducing several awesome places that make Nashville a great place to live and visit. Each day of the week has a different theme, and I am trying to focus on those hidden gems that aren’t as well known but just as worthy. 

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31 Days of Nashville – The Pancake Pantry

6 - Pancake Pantry

The Pancake Pantry is among one of the top tourist favorites in Nashville. When out of town guests come to Nashville, they often ask about breakfast at the pantry. Because of its popularity with the tourists, there’s usually a line out the door most weekends starting about 7am, even when the weather isn’t so great.

One of the oldest memories I have of The Pancake Pantry is my mom telling me about Reba McEntire’s video Is There Life Out There being filmed there in 1991. My mom worked across the street (where I worked years later), and told us how they were looking for extras to be in the video. Extras had to agree to stay there all day and eat pancakes while Reba portrayed a waitress at the restaurant for the video. I may love pancakes, but I don’t know that I could eat them all day. How about you?

The Pancake Pantry also has significance with David and me because it’s part of the story of how we met. Years and years ago before the world was made smaller by the internet, I was still fairly new to what is now known as blogging. I had an account on LiveJournal where it was rare to meet people who lived near you. I was searching through journals of people in Nashville, when I came across a post of this guy writing about the pantry, which was across the street from where I was working at the time, and just a block down the street from where he was working. We became friends on LiveJournal then a few months later we met for lunch…at The Pancake Pantry. When we met in 2003, I was married to my first husband, but after my divorce in 2008, David was the guy friend giving me dating advice. A few months later, we started dating, and the rest, you could say, is history.

Since we started dating, we celebrate Pancake Day every year on February 11th, which is the date that David wrote the post that prompted us to meet, become friends, start dating and eventually marry. I even wrote pancakes into my wedding vows to David, so we’re pretty much some crazy pancake fans.

The Pancake Pantry is only open through lunch, and closes at 3pm during the week and 4pm on the weekends. The best time to go is when the doors open at 6am, unless you don’t mind standing in line for a table.

Have you been to The Pancake Pantry? What’s your favorite? I’m a fan of the sweet potato pancakes. 

This post is part of a series I am writing, 31 Days of Nashville, where I am introducing several awesome places that make Nashville a great place to live and visit. Each day of the week has a different theme, and I am trying to focus on those hidden gems that aren’t as well known but just as worthy. 

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31 Days of Nashville – Little Black Dress Club

5 - Little Black Dress Club

Photo Credit – Shay Ashcraft

While it’s not exclusive to Nashville, I am part of the Nashville Chapter of the Little Black Dress Club. I joined this time last year, but it has been a very full year of new experiences, new adventures and new friends. I first looked into joining about a year prior to actually going to an event. I found the club through Meetup and watched for their events, but they never seemed to be during times that I could go or social anxiety would get the best of me, and I would fear not feeling like I fit in.

My first event was a simple game night at the home of one of the co-directors. I made my co-worker go with me so that I would have someone to talk to just in case I felt out of place. Within the first hour, all those fears were gone, and I knew I had found a great group of women that I’d enjoy getting to know.

The Little Black Dress Club has been a great way to get me out of the house and go places that I probably wouldn’t go on my own. Some people find it hard to believe that I am an introvert, but there are times that I will try to talk myself out of going places (club events and just other general things going on in life that I MIGHT have a choice in attending). I know that most of the time I will have a good time once I actually get out of the house, but taking that first step out the door is by far the hardest sometimes. I can go on and on about being an introvert, and I actually have written about it on more than a few occasions. I’m not saying that the Little Black Dress Club has “cured” me of being an introvert, because there’s nothing wrong AT ALL with being an introvert, but I am thankful when I do go out and have experiences that I wouldn’t have had if I let it get the best of me and stayed home.

The past few months, I’ve broadened my experiences with the club by going on a multi-chapter road trip to Chicago to meet other members from other chapters, like Columbus, Detroit and Chicago. In addition to the Chicago trip, we’ve also went Glamping, wine tasting, had several Girl’s Night Out dinners, and a few brunches. Just to give you an idea of some other events we’ve had in Nashville and the other chapters, be sure to check out the blog. I happen to know one of the contributors of the blog very well…ahem, it’s me 🙂

So if you don’t live in Nashville, there might be a chapter near you. And if you decide to join, let me know and maybe we can road trip to visit your chapter or invite you to one of the Nashville Chapter events when you’re in town!

This post is part of a series I am writing, 31 Days of Nashville, where I am introducing several awesome places that make Nashville a great place to live and visit. Each day of the week has a different theme, and I am trying to focus on those hidden gems that aren’t as well known but just as worthy. 

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