If I had a bumper sticker it would say, “I break for the curiosities on Charlotte Avenue.” At every turn, you find a combination of new and old, and it’s one of Nashville’s most historically significant streets–in its hey day, it was bustling with the activity of churches, banks, specialty shops and more. Old photographs tell the story of its glory, but in this writer’s opinion, the glory days may be coming back.
Today, my adventures on Charlotte are mostly confined to the area near the intersection with 46th Avenue.
My first stop was to visit Fred Koller, owner of Rhino Books. Rhino Books is, in one word, fascinating. It is filled to the brim with over 75,000 titles and an entire back room is devoted to first edition and signed books.
Rhino Books is housed in what used to be the West Tennessee Bank building.
The “vault” is where you can find the priceless books that Fred has collected. Fred himself is a Nashville treasure, as he co-wrote hundreds of songs with his buddy, Shel Silverstein. Rhino Books is a must see on your tour.
Next, I popped in a new coffee shop in Nashville, Headquarters. If you want a great place to gather for a small meeting, this place is charming. As the StyleBlueprint sales staff literally invaded Headquarters, our final take was that they have the prettiest coffee cups in town and the lattes are made with sweet TLC.
Gifts and Accessories:
Shopping on Charlotte runs the gamut–from Goodwill to Fabu. I enjoy Fabu so much, as it continues to deliver gorgeous and affordable jewelry with a huge selection of gift items. On a recent visit, I discovered lots of wonderful Easter finds and hats galore.
LeQuire Gallery is an impressive resident of Charlotte Avenue. If you’ve not familiar with the Athena statue at the Parthenon or Musica–aka, the naked rompers–at the round-a-bout on Music Row, then you’re missing out on one of Nashville’s most prolific artists. (Word has it from a reliable source that there is an effort to finally get water dancing with the rompers. It is a much needed addition to one of Nashville’s most beloved and controversial landmarks.)
I popped in and had the happy occasion to speak with Andree LeQuire. As she walked me through the gallery, I was flabbergasted how big the gallery is and how gorgeous their collection of artists is. One great tip is that if you stop by when Alan is there, he will personally discuss his techniques. LeQuire Gallery represents several artists who are worth noting–Greg Decker, Jim Sherradan, and Brody Vincent. Of course, art is personal and these are some of my personal favorites.
Not exactly a retail location, be sure to check out StudioBe with artist Cindy Wunsch, which also located on Charlotte. Not only is she a talented artist, her art classes, studio time, art parties (think birthday or girls’ night out) and camps have many in town finding their own left brain creativity!
Where to eat:
One of StyleBlueprint’s favorite restaurants, Miel, is located in the historic Johnson’s Meat Market right off Charlotte Avenue behind Bobby’s Dairy Dip. Miel continues to bring us some of the freshest produce in town, as much comes from proprietor Seema Prasad’s garden off of nearby River Road. Under the steady hand of Chef Ashley Quick, Miel delivers some of Nashville’s finest cuisine.
The hidden force behind Bobby’s Dairy Dip is owner Sam Huh. A Vandy grad, one of Sam’s personal missions is to ready the ranks of our teenagers for employment. Sam is known as a mentor to our young folk, giving them helpful tips on how a real interview is conducted. Thank you, Sam!
Bobby’s Dairy Dip has tons of incredible ice cream delicacies, but also serves up a full menu. If you long for a quick and perhaps healthier snack, try their sweet potato fries. My personal favorite is their root beer float, reasonably priced at $3!
I am eternally on the search for good take-out options. I am picky about take-out, as it’s usually disappointing, so I many times just opt out. Then I discovered Coco’s Italian Market, which is located right off Charlotte. It is completely authentic Italian fare. My favorite take-out dinner is a quart of marinara sauce, five meatballs (they are substantial!) and a loaf of crusty bread, which comes in at under $15. Then, I usually throw together a salad myself and, voila, dinner is served! FYI, the pizza gets rave reviews, too. Coco’s Italian Market is the real McCoy!
Nuvo Buritois one of the newest restaurant additions to Charlotte Avenue. This eatery has resided in East Nashville next to Marche for a couple years and has a serious following. This newer location is housed in the old Krystal’s and, happily, Nuvo serves up margaritas! I was astonished at how well they rehabbed this former fast food space. It has a fun retro feel with low lighting and splashes of red. The burritos are inventive with interesting combinations. We sampled the Heart of Dixie burrito which is sweet potato, coleslaw, black beans, sweet corn relish and cheeses wrapped up in a spinach tortilla. Yum! The tomatillo salsa, guacamole and queso are made in house. It’s worth noting that all the burritos can be made as salads. The entire family gave it a thumbs up.
M. L. Rose resides at the former site of Lavender Motors, and this new restaurant on Charlotte gives a nod to its automotive history everywhere you look. The chandelier, made of mufflers, is a must-see, and the exposed brick and woodwork give this neighborhood watering hole a cozy feel. If you like beer on tap, they’ve got it, and then some. The food doesn’t disappoint, especially the wings and burgers.
Some other Charlotte Avenue gems:
Located in the Thistle Farms building on Charlotte Avenue, this soon-to-open cafe will serve hand-brewed coffee and specialty tea, as well as a menu of sandwiches, salads and desserts.
As you can see below, the construction is underway and much of the work is being done by volunteers. The wood for the flooring has an interesting story: it came from Al Gore Sr.’s tobacco barn in Carthage, TN. The Thistle Stop Cafe plans to open in late April. We will keep you posted.
Geny’s is a family owned business with a loyal following. If you need to purchase fresh flowers, vases, ribbons, oasis or any other basic floral supply items, Geny’s has them. On a recent visit, I was able to score 15 vases for a bridesmaid’s luncheon. Also, the minute you think Christmas, go to Geny’s. They have a vast selection of ribbon.
L & L Restaurant Equipment
I’ve driven by this place a thousand times and wondered what could take up all that space. L & L is packed with new and used restaurant equipment. It is open to the public, but most of their inventory is for commercial use. You can find sturdy bar stools and long lasting chairs for your kitchen table, as they are made to withstand lots of use. They have tons of knives, spatulas and aprons. And, if you are trying to stock your pantry with some extra plates and wine glasses, then by all means, head on over.
When you walk in the door, you’ll notice a vintage car (not sure why) and lots of buckets of water (the roof leaks); don’t let that stop you. This place is fun.
As mentioned in our post last month on Sylvan Park, don’t forget to drop by the West Nashville Farmers Market, one of the finest community-founded farmers markets in the region. They’ve been operating out of the LOVE building during these past cold months on Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon, which is located at 4611 Alabama Avenue, behind the Darkhorse Theater. But, with warmer weather FINALLY here, look for the market on Saturday mornings at Richland Park from 9 a.m. until noon, which should start next week, in April.
If you want to read more about what’s going on, by all means, check out the following blog: Charlotte Avenue is Shaping Up. Lots and lots of great information in it. For example, did you know that their are rumors of IKEA opening up on Charlotte, or that Climb Nashville is moving to a bigger facility on Charlotte Avenue? Click here for more info: