Jan 13, 2023 - Things to Do

Cledis is a burger joint with a mission

The Oklahoma Smash burger from Cledis. Photo: Nate Rau/Axios

Before you even walk inside the burger joint Cledis, you know you’re in for something special.

  • The irresistible aroma of sizzling patties perfumes the parking lot.

It's the perfect introduction to the new venture from chef Shane Nasby, who previously co-owned HoneyFire BBQ in Bellevue.

  • The restaurant, which used to house an accounting office and a brewery, is a diamond in the rough on Elm Hill Pike.
  • Nasby cooks out of a food truck parked outside next to the beer garden, which is opening soon.

Why it matters: Burgers are big news in Nashville. Nasby set out to add a new "hole-in-the-wall joint" to the food scene that could stand alongside other beloved mom and pops.

  • "We didn't want clean and crisp," Nasby tells Axios. "When I go into a city, I want to go to the places that look like Cledis."

Yes, but: Nasby and his wife wanted Cledis to be about more than ground beef and crispy fries.

  • “I’m not wired to just show up and cook all day every day without some kind of meaning or purpose behind it,” Nasby says.

The big picture: He sought to weave a spirit of service into every aspect of the new business.

  • They partnered with the nonprofit People Loving Nashville to find ways to serve people who are unhoused and impoverished.
  • Once a month, the team travels downtown to serve burgers to hundreds of hungry people.
  • When Cledis is able to expand beyond his skeleton-crew staff, Nasby wants to offer low-barrier employment to people who have experienced homelessness.

Zoom in: For Nasby, the mission is personal.

  • "I know what it's like to be in need," he says. "I’ve lived in it myself."

Nasby named the restaurant after his grandfather, who ran a diner in Indiana when he was growing up.

What he's saying: "To be able to carry out his legacy and his name in a way that serves others and provides meals for others is such an honor," Nasby says.

  • "It's the heartbeat of what we do."

What we're watching: Nasby has plans to expand service this spring by opening the large beer garden, adding more staff and hours and hosting live music.

💭 Our thought bubble: We visited Cledis this week and went with two classics: the Cledis Burger and the Oklahoma Smash.

  • They were cooked to perfection, with those undeniable crispy edges hanging off the bun.
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