Had he not made several pizza deliveries into the beautiful hinterland of Smith County, Franklin Grandstaff likely would never have become Pleasant Shade’s major employer.
The pieces of the puzzle, not the pizza, fell into place rapidly when he decided to open his own restaurant, the Pleasant Shade Store and Café, in December. Today, the eatery boasts 15 employees, and all but one live in this pastoral community set nearly in the midpoint of an equilateral triangle between Carthage, Hartsville and Red Boiling Springs. (It is about a 45-minute drive from the Lebanon square).
Grandstaff, 59, who lives in Lebanon, has been in the restaurant business for years and continues to be in a three-year association with the Bellacino’s in Gordonsville and Lebanon (on Highway 109). But he always had a yen to open a place of his own.
He relates how his dream came to fruition, saying, “I kept having to deliver pizzas from Bellacino’s back here in Pleasant Shade, and I kept going by the store, which had a ‘for sale’ sign out front. A couple of times I would get lost and would go to a friend’s house here and use the phone because my cell phone wouldn’t work.
“I asked them, ‘Why don’t you all open that up for a restaurant?’ They said they didn’t want to, so I let it go. A few weeks later I happened to deliver another pizza over here, and I kept seeing this ‘for sale’ sign. Finally, I just dialed the phone number and called the realtor. He brought me out here and let me look at it
“And it just went from there. A few weeks later I made another pizza delivery. I told my wife, ‘Why don’t you come and look at this? It interests me.’ So, she came and looked at it, and we felt like God was opening the door for us.”
The business had been shut down for two years, thus its reopening proved a godsend to those in the hamlet. The café immediately became the heart, soul and stomach of Pleasant Shade, a place where folks can meet, greet and eat.
Grandstaff describes the cooking saying, “The different dinners are based on my mother’s recipes. I’m the meatloaf chef, and I make her meatloaf on Wednesday. The Sunday dinner menu is what my mother made for Sunday dinner. So, I think of it as coming home. We do fried chicken on Sunday with green beans, corn, mashed potatoes and rolls. Then I’ll usually add three more vegetable of some sort so you have some choices.”
The café, which seats 81, has been drawing customers from Carthage, Lafayette, Red Boiling Springs, Hartsville, Russell Hill and Defeated Creek.
As for the most popular entrees, he said, “The sliced pork shoulder, the hamburger steak and, of course, the catfish. Friday is the biggest night and our catfish is by far the most popular item. We serve it all day Friday and some Saturdays, and they love the white beans made from scratch with ham hocks and the cole slaw and hush puppies.”
Ask native Brad Halliburton, a man noted for bringing old tractors back to life, what he likes most about the cafe, and he reports, “I enjoy the food and atmosphere more than anything. It’s kind of put Pleasant Shade on the map in a roundabout way, although there ain’t anything here but me and the farm equipment business and the post office.
“I eat here probably twice a day and at least 10 times a week. My grandparents, Phil and Penny Halliburton of the Russell Hill community, eat dinner here about every day,” said the working man who is partial to the fried chicken and strawberry fluff cake.
Sally Woodard of Defeated stopped in with her granddaughter, Harley Timbs of Carthage, recently for lunch. She ordered the chicken and dumplings, mixed beans, potato casserole, cornbread and tea. Harley chose chicken tenders, mash potatoes and a salad
Said Woodard, “It’s closer to home, and the food’s good, too. It’s a good place to eat.”
Wendy Drumm, who lives in “the Shade,” dines here at least three times a week.
She said, “We love it. We’re so glad Franklin opened it. It was a relief. We were so happy. We bring our friends. It’s like a neighborhood reunion. If you don’t see ’em at church, you see ‘em here during the week.”
What’s on the menu?
Lunch begins to get dished out at 11 a.m. seven days a week. The daily specials include: Monday: spaghetti and meatballs, $10; Tuesday: chicken and dumplings and two sides, $6; Wednesday: meatloaf and two sides, $6; Thursday: rib and two sides, $7, two sides, $9; Friday night: catfish, slaw, white beans, hush puppies, $10; Saturday: 3 p.m. to close: half a BBQ chicken and two sides, $10; and Sunday: fried chicken and two sides, roll, $10.
The menu also offers burgers, grilled pork chops, chicken tenders and salads, turkey; and sandwich selections feature BLT, ham and cheese, grilled cheese, BBQ and bologna. Among the veggie selections are sweet-potato fries, corn nuggets and fried okra. The kid plates cost $5.
It seems like half the population of Pleasant Shade works in the café. The staff includes store manager Melissa Mundy, shift manager and cook Kristian Ramsey, cooks Lois Davis and Crystal Cravens, BBQ cook Randy Mundy and BBQ chef trainee David Mayberry (of Carthage), waitresses Rebecca Claywell, Riley Cripps, Abbi Gregory, Brook Halliburton, Maggie Lewis and Maria Mundy, cashier-dishwasher Tony Morris, dishwasher Colt Harris and cook and pie-maker trainee Hannah Andrews.
Mundy and daughter Maria also make anniversary cakes, birthday cakes and cupcakes that may be purchased via the café.
Speaking of desserts, Grandstaff affirmed, “Yes, all the desserts are made from scratch homemade. We divide up. Miss Lois makes a lot of them. I make some, and I have a couple of people who live in the community who make them.”
Among the first goodies to run out most days are the peach and cherry cobblers and the fudge pie. One other sweet hit is the brownie delight, a brownie covered with ice cream and slathered in chocolate syrup.
Walking fast back and forth from kitchen to tables this day is waitress Abbi Gregory, who works here two days a week and attends classes two nights a week as she prepares for a career in nursing.
Her favorites on the menu include the catfish and cheeseburger, but what she really likes best are “the people. Everybody around here knows me,” said the Pleasant native, who holds a full-time job at Carthage Pavilion Assisted Living.
How it all started
Restaurateur Grandstaff is one of only two here who does not live in Pleasant Shade. He and his wife, Frances, hang their hat in Lebanon. A 1977 graduate of Lebanon High School, Grandstaff attended Cumberland University before graduating from Middle Tennessee State University.
He taught school for eight years including stints at Gordonsville High, Lebanon High, Trousdale County High School, Mt. Juliet Christian Academy and Bazzell Middle School (in Kentucky).
His culinary career resume includes McDonald’s, Country Boy Truck Stop (now Uncle Pete’s Travel Center), Arby’s and Bellacino’s.
Asked to explain the name of the Jane Reed Pleasant Shade Café, he said, “I wanted something different. Jane is my wife Frances’ middle name, and Reed is my middle name, and I named the company after her and me. The previous owners let me keep the name Pleasant Shade Café. So, I merged them all together to be the Jane Reed Pleasant Shade Store and Café.”
JANE REED’S PLEASANT SHADE STORE AND CAFÉ
Where: 725 Pleasant Shade Highway (Highway 80)
Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. (breakfast 8-11 a.m.) Friday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.
Contact: (615) 677-2233 or Facebook page.