Arnold's Country Kitchen Closes Its Doors In Nashville After 40 Years

Roll up into any Southern town, large or small, and locals will point you in the direction of the town's best meat-and-three — a choice of meat and three sides (via Reader's Digest). The outlet explains that the concept originated in Nashville, Tennessee, when farm life shifted toward a more urban lifestyle. So, when the meat-and-three's founding father, Lynn Chandler, sold his 8th avenue restaurant 40 years ago to then-employee Jack Arnold, per The Nashville Scene, a new wave of diehards ranging from country music moguls like John Prine to everyday Nashvillians soon lined out the door of Arnold's Country Kitchen for freshly-made daily specials like fried chicken and collard greens with homemade pie. Current chef and co-owner Kahlil Arnold (Jack's son) told Reader's Digest, "It's the melting pot of Nashville."

According to a Nashville Banner tweet, Arnold's is one of Nashville's most lauded local eats, but the restaurant will close its doors this week. The publication broke the news by tweet and newsletter on December 30, 2022. Still, with Nashville treasures like neighboring Mercy Lounge bowing out last fall due to the planned construction of an amphitheater, per Variety, this isn't a "paved paradise" situation. Kahlil spoke to Tasting Table, explaining, "It's not a money grab, and is bittersweet. But, it's a good thing for my mom. She's ready to go, and can just walk away. Lots of people in this industry don't have this option. Isn't that what we all want to do?"

Why is Arnold's Closing?

When Jack Arnold purchased the business in 1983, the area wasn't considered prime by most standards, according to the Nashville Banner newsletter. So, when Arnold's lease came up for renewal with the option to buy, Rose and her son Kahlil struggled to find willing lenders, per The Nashville Scene, "We knew that a restaurant was the worst possible use for that property," Rose said. But, a 2012 appearance on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives ultimately drove lenders their way. Still, Kahlil told Tasting Table, "This was never our end plan. We didn't think we would last this long, as restaurants usually last five to 10 years, not 40."

"I'm tired," Rose told The Nashville Scene. "My back hurts like hell! I want to retire, and I've got a lot of people to take care of, including my husband." While Nashville Banner lists that the building currently assesses to be worth $2 million and its parking lot double that amount, Rose and Kahlil felt it was time to sell. Kahlil told us, "At the end of the day, I love it that it means so much to people. It's just a restaurant compared to her life. She's put a lot into it. It's time. I'll be reopening to carry out my father's legacy." 

It's too soon to tell where Arnold's will turn up next. But, as Kahlil explained, "It's the people that make Arnold's Arnold's." And we'll keep an eye out as to how Kahlil carries on Arnold's legacy.