I pride myself on knowing what’s is going on within a 50 mile radius of Nashville, so when Liza beat me to the punch on Papa Boudreaux’s, I thought, “Ouch. Where have I been?” Then Holly Williams (H.Audreys’ lovely owner) completely got my goat when she went on and on about the new haunts in Leiper’s Fork. Really? Did she scoop me by knowing there was a B&B, organic restaurant and homeopathic pharmacy—all brand spankin’ new? Yep. It was time for a road trip…
My husband got a hall pass on Good Friday, so off we went to discover the “new” Leiper’s Fork, as well as visit many of our old time favorites, too.
A quick note: A visit to Leiper’s Fork provokes a nostalgic feel, and the community feels as though it’s been there forever. I’m not saying Leiper’s doesn’t have a ton of history, but as a tourist destination, and a great one at that, it is relatively new. The vision of Aubrey Preston and Marti and Bruce Hunt has made Leiper’s Fork what is today. For the past twelve years, their vision has molded Leiper’s Fork into Mayberry, USA, with a community of close-knit shop owners. If you’ve noticed Barney Fife’s police car parked in front of the local convenience market, you know this trio is serious when it comes to props. And, events like Benton Town 1812, Old Tennessee Trail Yard Sale, and Gospel in the Fork contribute to the town’s authenticity.
Here’s what we found while tooling around town:
Moonshine Hill Inn – The ultimate in luxury, this B&B is located on 22 acres of pristine countryside. And here’s the best part – you get to have it all to yourself. Ann Johnson, Moonshine’s owner, spent hours of hard labor making this quaint B&B an oasis for relaxation. It has a massive old stone fireplace, porches, luxurious bedrooms and wonderful amenities. Moonshine Hill was previously home to a famous still, whose patrons traveled as far as Sumner County to purchase its magic elixir. Moonshine has hosted weddings, family gatherings and romantic interludes. There is a two night minimum—so leave stress at the door. Breakfast is included, with special touches all the way around.
Joe’s Naturals Farm Store & Cafe – From homemade soups to fresh garden bowls of raw veggies and hummus, everything at Joe’s appeals. If you are a carnivore, the Sami’s Cuban and Miss Mary Bobo Grilled sandwiches rock! This quaint eatery is located next to Leiper’s Fork Gallery and is run by Paul and Deborah Schertz. “Why not call it Paul’s?” we asked. “Well, Joe’s sounded better.” Gotcha.
Most of the menu items come from local purveyors like Nobel Springs and Hatcher Dairies. Also, Paul and his wife grow many of the vegetables on Waddell Hollow farm. Do not leave the premises without sampling their cakes. “Aunt Bea,” endearingly named by locals, lives down the road and makes them from scratch for Joe’s. We ordered both coconut and the carrot cake. Divine.
Gypsy’s – For all you Channel 4 fans (I’m one of them) who are wondering what happened to Aaron Solomon, fret no more—we found him. Seriously, follow the blogs. His fans really are looking for him. Aaron and his wife, Angie, are owners of the kitschy store, Gypsies. Gypsies is filled with jewelry, soaps and lotions and some delightful high-end apparel. The store is charming – its open air porch and sumptuous day bed are perfect for relaxing. Angela is trained as a compound pharmacist (quite the dying breed) and was hard at work in her upstairs office when I was there. Compound pharmacists go back to ancient roots, when pharmacists focused on herbs, roots, oils and natural substances to heel a myriad of ills in society. Today, compound pharmacists can concoct homeopathic remedies to meet their customers’ special needs.
Leiper’s Fork Art Gallery – Have you ever thought why you love one gallery over another? It’s usually something so subtle, it’s hard to articulate. Lisa Fox finds artists who show well together, but who can stand alone individually, too. On my recent visit, I saw work by Anton Weiss, Kem Alexander (our favorite goddess of concrete), Butler Steltemeier and Michael Shane Neal. The gallery has lovely open air rooms with tall ceilings, and the incandescent light is perfect for the paintings.
Warm weather brings the start of the Leiper’s Fork Lawnchair Theater. You can enjoy free movies behind the gallery during summer nights. Lisa welcomes the seasoned collector and casual day tourist alike, as though they are one in the same.
Serenite Maison – When we stopped by this shop, Alex Cirimelli, the owner of Serenite Maison, was designing Michael McDonald’s home in Hawaii! (Not too shabby for a day job.) So instead, we were able to chat with Marti, the original owner of the store and one of Leiper’s Forks’ visionaries. It was the Friday before Easter, and Marti (the constant ambassador) and her crew were busy planning ” Feaster,” a garden-to-table celebration in her back field. She could not have been more gracious in her invitation to join in on the fun. Unfortunately for us, we had other plans.
Back to Serenite Maison. This charming shop is chock-full of 19th and 20th century antique lighting fixtures, mirrors, garden vessels and fabulous jewelry. I found myself wandering around the shop one way, reversing and going the other way. Serenite Maison is perfect for gifts, and even if you don’t buy anything, you’ll walk out swirling.
Yeoman’s Bookstore-if you are mourning the loss of Nashville’s local bookstores, Yeoman’s in the Fork is an answer to your prayers. Elegant bookcases adorn this antebellum structure and Yeoman’s inventories include many signed first edition and collector’s books. Previous owner, Mike Cotter couldn’t be more helpful and informative. It seems that a good fairy (aka health care executive, Charlie Martin) found his way down to the Fork and invested heartily in many stores. Yeoman’s was fortunate to be one of them.
A quick glance at my watch—darn, it’s time to pick up the girlies from school.
Other establishments worth noting are: Country Boy Restaurant, Green’s Grocery, Katydid’s, Leiper’s Fork Market and Puckett’s Grocery. All offer local delicacies and goods from the area. We know we’ll be back soon.
Follow our lead and spend an afternoon in Historic Leiper’s Fork.