Sep 20, 2023 - News

Axios Nashville looks back on two years of newsletters

Illustration of the Axios logo as a gold balloon.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Two years ago Wednesday, we sent our first-ever Axios Nashville newsletter.

Why it matters: Since then, we've written relentlessly about a city at a crossroads.

  • It's been a tumultuous journey, but time and time again, we have found bright spots from a surprising source: our city's burger joints.

Zoom in: Brown's Diner, a Nashville institution established in 1927, embodies the challenges and opportunities of life in New Nashville.

It seems impossible that Brown's Diner is still doing its thing when so many other beloved Nashville dives have cratered.

When Brown's sold to new owners a few years ago, we all started writing its obituary.

  • But something surprising happened: Brown's kept going.

New ownership adapted to the city's changing landscape without sacrificing what made Brown's great in the first place.

  • We were greeted by the same smell of burger grease and spilled beer when we stopped by on Tuesday for an anniversary lunch. The same creaky booths lined the walls.
  • We even ran into familiar faces. Outgoing Mayor John Cooper and his aides Sam Wilcox and Ben Eagles came in as we headed out the door.
  • But there were some signs of the times. The menu now includes loaded chili tater tots, and the owners added a handsome outdoor deck with a bar and plenty of seating that would fit right in at any new trendy restaurant.

In a city clamoring to maintain its soul in a sea of bachelorettes and big development, the Brown's burger points a way forward.

Another patty slinger across town shows that new additions enrich our city, too.

Like Brown's, Cledis offers reliably great burgers. It also has a pleasant and spacious outdoor dining area.

  • Instead of catering to tourists, Cledis' mission is to give back to Nashville, especially its unhoused residents. The restaurant regularly partners with a nonprofit to provide free food to the community.

The bottom line: Our city has its share of struggles, especially affordability and quality of life for longtime Nashvillians.

  • As we enter our third year of Axios Nashville newsletters, we will continue to cover those issues. But we also want to celebrate the places that make Nashville special — from longtime institutions like Brown's to scrappy upstarts like Cledis.
  • In these two burger joints, we see a city willing to adapt and meet residents wherever they are.

If you've enjoyed following Nashville with us for the last two years, encourage your friends to join in by subscribing for free.

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