For fans of Johnny Cash, a new Nashville tourist stop is serving up what they crave, along with homestyle Southern cooking. During a media event on Wednesday, members of the Cash family hosted the grand opening of Johnny Cash’s Kitchen & Saloon, a two-story, 15,000-square-foot dining and entertainment space located next door to the Johnny Cash Museum.
The restaurant and bar features a cafeteria-style dining room downstairs that serves a menu curated by Music City fixture Swett’s, and an upstairs space inspired by the rustic décor of the Cash family home, complete with a fireplace lounge and a replica of the Cash Cabin porch. The entire space is filled with stained glass art, many depicting Johnny and June Carter Cash, and oversized photos of Cash. According to John Carter Cash, several of the previously unseen photos are outtakes from shoots for his father’s album covers.
For Carlene Carter, who performed at the event, memories of meals at the Cash home were warm and inviting. While both Johnny and June both loved to cook, she notes he was particularly gifted at making chili — but that he loved his steak burned and “so well done it could have been jerky.” Yet, thanks to her mom, dinners at home were a more formal affair than Cash Kitchen patrons will find.
“Whenever they were home, we always had a sit-down dinner and it was usually earlier than later,” Carter tells Rolling Stone Country. “We would have it at, like, 4:30. That was usually because John had taken a nap and he didn’t want to eat right before bed. We would eat in the dining room. Mama would lay a beautiful table every time, with china and silver. That was family time. There was no TV on and none of the things that happen now. I think our dinner discussion made us a lot closer as a family in a lot of ways.”
Coincidentally, the Johnny Cash Kitchen & Saloon sits in the very same spot on Third Avenue where the Man in Black once helped aspiring country artist Martin Delray film a music video for his remake of Cash’s “Get Rhythm” in 1991. The clip spotlights a variety of modern dance styles, with Cash even executing a brief Michael Jackson moonwalk, before he and Delray make their way down the street — walking directly in front of the buildings that would, 28 years later, house the museum and eatery bearing Cash’s name.
Last month, a new website launched that documents Cash’s rich musical history, from his albums to his tour dates. Johnnycash.com also includes the singer’s acting resume, archived music videos, and a bibliography of books written about him.