By RANDY RUDDER
Photos by DAN KANE
Some of the more mature readers of Wilson Living Magazine may remember that line from an old Arlo Guthrie song, but herein Mt. Juliet, it’s true. You really can get just about anything you want at Alice’s – I mean Courtney’s – Restaurant and Catering.
Nashville certainly has its share of noted meat ‘n three restaurants, from Loveless Café, Sylvan Park, and Sweat’s on the west side, to The Pie Wagon near Music Row, and Mason’s in Goodlettsville, but Courtney’s Restaurant and Catering in Mt. Juliet is rapidly gaining on those establishments as a ‘player’ in the category.
Owner Tom Courtney is a south Florida native who has been in Middle Tennessee since 1983, and has worked in the food service business his whole life. He left Florida when his father, also a restauranteur, bought a Po’ Folks franchise. Tom received his hospitality management degree from Western Kentucky University and later worked for Mrs. Winners, Olive Garden, and Cracker Barrel, and was a managing partner of Rio Bravo on West End in Nashville. Tom and wife Lisa opened the café in 2009, at the former location of Baker’s Café and Our Place Restaurant, on North Mt. Juliet Road.
Courtney’s offers traditional meat ‘n three fare such as country fried steak, jambalaya, catfish, pulled pork BBQ, fried chicken, and sides like mashed potatoes, green beans, fried okra, sweet potatoes, pinto beans, and corn, but Courtney’s distances itself from most meat ‘n threes with its variety of additional offerings like homemade omelettes and pancakes for breakfast, club sandwiches for lunch, and steaks for dinner.
Tom Courtney says his establishment falls into the ‘fast casual’ genre of restaurants. The cafeteria line and salad bar items are quick for those who want to eat on the run, but there are also a number of fresh prepared options as well, like the flat iron steaks and ribeyes (each $9.99), and prime rib ($11.95) available every weekend for dinner.
Tom says some of the most popular items are the restaurant’s club sandwiches. “We have ham, turkey, and chicken club sandwiches on wheat berry toast that are among our best-selling lunch items. We sell about 60 of those a day,” he says. “We have a salad bar here and we also do a Greek salad that we marinate and make ourselves. As far as breakfast, we are really famous for our omelettes. We sell omelettes and sweet cream pancakes to order. Most restaurants really don’t do what we do. You can eat something different every day–or every meal–of the week,” he says. And if all that is not filling enough for you, there is always a scoop of fresh banana pudding or coconut cream pie with a hot cup of coffee to top things off.
Perhaps the most unusual aspect of Courtney’s, however, is the catering side. It’s not uncommon for the same kitchen that cranks out the meat ‘n three entries and club sandwiches every day to also prepare from 1,000 to 2,000 additional meals for catering functions. “Last year we fed about 2,000 additional people at DuPont for their Christmas party and did about the same amount for the Amazon distribution plant here too,” Courtney says. “About 2800 square feet of our total space here is just the kitchen, and our catering is a huge part of our business.”
Courtney’s also features toe-tapping bluegrass music every weekend from bands like Lester Ray Sears and Tennessee Border, and there’s never a cover charge. So next time you’re feeling hungry, but don’t want to fight the Providence traffic, head on over to Courtney’s Restaurant and Catering. Tom will make sure you get anything you want.
Courtney’s Restaurant and Catering is located at 4066B N. Mt. Juliet Road. Open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday thru Satruday and on Sunday, they are open from 7 to 10:30 for breakfast and serve lunch from 10:30 to 2:00. To learn more about their menu and catering options, go to www.courtneysmtjuliet.com.