If you’ve ever listened to Hank Williams Sr. croon “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” or have sung along as Tammy Wynette belted out “Stand by Your Man” on the radio, you are aware that country music singers know heartache. And it seems they also know good country cooking. That’s why the Loveless Cafe in the home of country music, Nashville, Tennessee, has been a favorite of theirs for more than half a century.
The restaurant got its name from original owners Lon and Annie Loveless, who opened their home to travelers along Highway 100 in 1951. In those days, the menu was simple: country ham, fried chicken, and plenty of homemade jam and hot biscuits.
Half a century later, when Donna McCabe, the restaurant’s third owner, began talking about retiring, it looked like the Loveless Cafe site might become a strip mall. Then, Nashville native Tom Morales stepped in. Morales, who had fond memories of eating at the restaurant with his family in the 1950s, assembled a group of investors to buy the cafe and save the Nashville landmark.
From the beginning, the new owners worked hard to retain the restaurant’s unique character, recalls Jesse Goldstein, manager of the cafe. Changes were made sparingly. “We didn’t want to mess it up,” he says, laughing.
The Loveless Cafe was closed for five months for remodeling, and its country-style menu was updated and expanded. The signature entrees, fried chicken and country ham, were joined by other Southern favorites such as fried catfish, home-style meatloaf, and pit-smoked pork barbecue. And for the first time in the cafe’s history, desserts were added to the menu.
The Loveless Cafe
8400 Highway 100
Nashville, TN 37221