Wendell Smith Restaurant

Wendell Smith Restaurant
407 53rd Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37209
(615) 383-7114

Born in 1933, Jakie Cook was the son-in-law of Wendell Smith, Sylvan Park entrepreneur and founder of the eponymous Wendell Smith Restaurant and adjacent businesses. Jakie came on as a clerk in the liquor store in 1958, a few years after marrying Wendell’s daughter, Beverly. Soon after that he took over management of the restaurant and eventually expanded the empire-on-the-corner to include not only the original restaurant, liquor store, and market, but a drugstore and barbecue stand, as well.

When Wendell started the restaurant, Sylvan Park was still a pastoral, rural community outside of Nashville. Now the restaurant sits about a half block from an interstate in a bustling commercial/industrial corridor. As the not-so-long-ago blue-collar neighborhood begins to gentrify, there is a popular neo-retro ice cream and burger place just across the street, Bobbie’s Dairy Dip, with a tiny classic French eatery, Miel, just behind it. Some of Nashville’s coolest eateries are in Sylvan Park, but even with such competition, musicians, ladies-who-lunch, businessmen, politicians, and local workers still flock to Wendell Smith’s, particularly on Wednesday or Saturday when the special is crisp, hot fried chicken.

These days, Jakie’s son, Benji, is the owner/manager of the restaurant while Jakie holds court, coffee cup in hand, at the liquor store.

Date of interview:

May 7, 2012


Ronni Lundy


Ronni Lundy

Wendell Smith Restaurant - Jakie Cook - Tabasco Guardians of the Tradition: Nashville, TN - Nashville Eats
[Wendell Smith] started a restaurant because he needed somewhere to hang out and drink coffee… wasn’t nothing around here. And it’s been very successful. The restaurant is a meat-and-three, and it’s been a goldmine.

Explore Media

Sort Media by: