The internet has been flooded with nervous chatter and upset since the last week of December, when news broke that Hillsboro Village’s iconic Brown’s Diner had sold. Native Nashvillians shared stories across social media of memories throughout the years at Brown’s, while holding out hope that the mysterious new owners wouldn’t make the downhome gathering spot another new “hipster” Nashville project or take away its charm.
Bret Tuck, a name known from his time with another Nashville staple, Edley’s BBQ, since inception, is the new owner. Tuck has visited Brown’s for years and understands the institution’s important role in the Nashville dining scene. In an interview inside the former trolley cart-turned-restaurant, Tuck assures longtime fans that there won’t be a big shakeup with the transition. He assures no teardowns or soaring apartment building in its place — just a heavy cleaning, kitchen refresh, and future dedication to quality of ingredients used on the menu, which will stay the largely the same, with addition of some new daily features and such.
While the new owners figure things out going forward, Tuck is spending his days inside Brown’s (which remains open as it always has been, for now) observing operations and chatting with the diners — who all seemed to have a story to share and seem happy to know a familiar face is taking the reins.
“Everything you see on the walls? It’ll still be there,” says Tuck. Tuck says they’ll rehab the trolley cart, maybe change the floors, and perhaps most importantly, keep the same staff. The new owners said nothing is set in stone just yet, they’re figuring it out as they go, with the emphases on keeping Brown’s, well, Brown’s. “It’ll always be Brown’s,” promises Tuck. “No name change, no sign change. I’m just here to listen and plan and renovate and tweak. We just want to enhance Brown’s going into its next chapter.”
“It was never lost on me or my partners how significant it was for Jim to pass the torch on this institution he’s watched over for 47 years. Couldn’t imagine a better outcome than having Bret and Will (Newman) take over. They have a deep respect for the place and how much it means to so many Nashvillians,” says Elliott Kyle, local real estate investor.
Brown’s opened its doors in 1927 and clenches the title for holding the longest-running valid beer license in Nashville. Jim Love, who has owned the beloved restaurant for 47 years, shared the news of the sale on social media the last week of 2020.