Then & Now: Gallatin's Food Scene

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Mary’s Place owners Tyler Clark (left) and Renee Clarke (right) with City Councilman Jimmy Overton, a regular at the restaurant.

How does the restaurant scene in Gallatin today compare to what was available 25 years ago?

The difference is night and day.

Renee Clarke, owner of Mary’s Place Restaurant on North Water Ave., remembers how things were. “There wasn’t much back then,” she said, “just a few meat-and-three places.” Renee knows a thing or two about the restaurant business. She took over running Mary’s Place in 2013 after the previous owner, her mother-in-law Mary Lucille Clark, passed away.

For the Clarks, running a restaurant has always been a family affair. Often working in partnership with her sister, Arlene, Mary had owned and operated restaurants in Gallatin since 1990. Everyone in the family pitched in. For Renee, picking up where Mary left off was a natural next step. “I always dreamed of having a restaurant of my own,” Renee said. “My customers are like part of my family.”

Gallatin City Councilman Jimmy Overton also remembers a very different dining landscape 25 years ago. “If you wanted a nice dinner, you had to go to Hendersonville or Nashville,” he explained. “There was nothing here in town.”

As the city’s population has grown, many regional and national chains have set up shop here. Today, you can get the flavors you crave from names you know, including McDonald’s, Bojangles, Chick-fil-A, Buffalo Wild Wings, O'Charley's Restaurant + Bar, Whitt's Barbecue, Cracker Barrel, and Logan's Roadhouse.

Growth has also made the city a magnet for restaurant entrepreneurs eager to test new concepts. Taste the results of their efforts at Swaney Swift's on the Square, Black Press Coffee Shop, Stomping Grounds, Kave, Klatch, Southern Bites, Govan's Salon & Coffee Café, Starr Ranch, Filly's Game & Grill, Awedaddy's Bar & Grill, Grant's Kitchen and Grill, EPIC Eatery, Alberto’s, and Osaka Japanese Restaurant.

You can find just about any taste you crave from a Gallatin restaurant. Looking for Mexican? Check out Cancun Lagoon or DosBros Fresh Mexican Grill. For meat-and-three lovers, try Mary's Place. In the mood for a cool treat? The Ice Cream Social, Nutrition Nook, and Pelican's Snoballs will satisfy your craving. When it’s pizza night, try Marco's Pizza, Fairvue Pizza & Pub, and Prince Street Pizza & Pub. If you’re looking for the best wings in town, try King's Place.

If you’re not comfortable heading out for dinner just yet, or you’re looking for great take-out options, several of the city’s catering companies can help. Bit-O-Heaven Catering, CRAVE Catering, C&G’s Fine Foods, and Two Fat Men Catering are all great choices. If your sweet tooth is acting up and you don’t want to leave home, call Sticky Tops and order a batch of delectable pecan rolls.

“Twenty-five years ago, we didn’t have enough places to eat,” Jimmy added. “Today, people are excited about all the choices available right here in Gallatin.”