There’s an old phrase that says you can’t go home. I, for one, believe it. Being the sentimental fool that I am, I hate to see a change that I didn’t instigate. When one goes home you see how the world has marched on without you – growing and changing while you have stayed the same in relation to that place. It’s a little bit heartbreaking – at least for me.
This last Friday another piece of my childhood died. No, it wasn’t a person. It was a place, The Dairy King Drive-In in Nashville, TN. Its original location was walking distance from my house. It served cones, shakes and homemade fried pies along with burgers and fries. Sometime in the 1970s they started serving a meat and three plate lunch every Monday through Friday. I can still taste their cornbread cakes that came with every meal. They came out in these little wax paper sandwich baggies. They didn’t even need butter as they were dripping with butter or maybe it was grease – but they were so delicious.
The place flooded more times than anyone could count but they rebuilt and kept dishing out great food. Over the years, they grew and expanded to include the original building and an air-conditioned eating space right next door. When the whole city of Nashville endured a massive flood in 2010 everyone thought they were done for good. But, like a phoenix from the ashes, they rebuilt in a new place where they wouldn’t get flooded again but in the same neighborhood of Woodbine/South Nashville.
Even though I rarely return to Nashville, I still followed their page on Facebook. Last week, when they announced this would be their last week of business it was all I could do not to jump in the car and drive 14 hours just for one of their plate lunches. It absolutely broke my heart. I have wonderful childhood memories of talking my mother or one of her siblings into taking me to get a cone at night after dinner. When my Granny was sick with cancer their plate lunches were about the only thing she’d eat. To think I will never again be able to get those cornbread cakes in a wax sandwich bag just hurts me down to my soul.
I understand why they are closing. They just can’t make ends meet with all the Covid-19 restaurant closures and the new mortgage from the “new” 2010 building. As they said in their farewell Facebook post, they cannot cover 100% of their expenses on 50% of their income. I know countless other businesses are in the same boat. Covid isn’t only killing people, it’s destroying people’s lives and livelihoods.
I wish I could do something to help Dairy King re-open/stay afloat but since they have put the business up for sale, I’m pretty sure I can’t. Instead, I will get take out from my favorite mom and pop Chinese or Mexican place. It’s not the same but hopefully, it will make a slight difference to another small business.
Photo Note: I’d love to add a photo on this one but they are all someone else property. If you want to see what the place looked like just google Dairy King Nashville. Maybe a local Nashville artist will paint the building before it’s gone. I’d buy a copy of that.