As progress continues on the new Elliston Place Soda Shop in Cool Springs, the longtime Nashville restaurant known for its classic burgers, meat-and-three plates, and homemade milkshakes has named Becky Watkins as general manager and Jeff Brown as executive chef of its second location.
Watkins has been in the restaurant industry for more than 30 years, demonstrating her leadership skills while learning the brand as operations manager of the original Elliston Place Soda Shop since 2016. She says that working closely with Owner Skip Bibb has been one of her favorite aspects of the position.
“Skip has done an amazing job preserving the history and story of the original Elliston Place Soda Shop,” said Watkins. “We share the same vision for the restaurant and everything that it can be.”
Prior to becoming a front-of-house manager, Watkins earned a degree from culinary school and spent several years working as a sous chef and executive chef at three country clubs in her home state of North Carolina. Since moving to Middle Tennessee in 2012, she has held managerial roles with Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant and with GRAYS On Main in downtown Franklin.
“The Cool Springs location is bursting with new possibilities,” said Watkins. “From expanding the menu to offer more creative, upscale diner food to private event options and offsite catering, there is just so much that we’ll be able to do here. I love the Franklin community, so I’m truly excited to share Elliston Place with them.”
As executive chef, Brown also brings a wealth of industry experience to the new eatery’s team. He began cooking at the age of 16 and had obtained a sous chef position by the time he was 19, prior to receiving a degree in culinary arts and hospitality supervision from Stratford University. After graduation, Brown launched his career in Washington D.C., where he worked under several acclaimed chefs.
Since moving to Nashville in 2005, he has worked as an executive chef at prominent restaurants around town, including the former downtown Nashville Italian favorite Sole Mio. He says his new role at Elliston Place allows him to rediscover the food he enjoyed growing up, and to draw inspirations from popular culinary styles in his home state.
“I’m a New Jersey native, and diners are everywhere,” Brown said. “This is the epitome of hearty comfort food, and if it’s done properly, it can make for a truly memorable meal. I’m looking forward to returning to my roots and showcasing a style of food here that is accessible to everyone, family-friendly and delicious.”
As a self-proclaimed “pastry enthusiast,” Brown has won several pastry and dessert competitions in and around Nashville, and he anticipates being able to put those skills to use at the Soda Shop.
“Even after almost 20 years as an executive chef, I love that look when someone closes their eyes because their meal is so delicious,” Brown said. “Seeing people enjoy my food is the best reward that I can receive. There’s a need in Cool Springs for a restaurant like Elliston Place, and we can’t wait to be part of the Franklin community.”
As for the menu, Watkins and Brown emphasize that, while they will offer specials and dishes unique to the Cool Springs location, they will always pay homage to and prioritize the original menu.
“We’re going to serve what people really crave: a great burger, a hearty breakfast and some of the best- fried chicken you’ll ever have,” Brown said.
Expected to open in late spring, the Cool Springs location is now hiring for all positions, including wait staff, cooks, dishwashers, hosts, bussers, soda jerks and more. Those interested in applying can send resumes to email@example.com or stop by the restaurant at 330 Mayfield Drive, Suite A-5 in Franklin.
About Elliston Place Soda Shop
Offering classic diner fare and soda fountain treats since 1939, Elliston Place Soda Shop is Nashville’s oldest continuously operating restaurant in its original location. The restaurant has been a local tradition for decades, serving Nashvillians and guests from all over the world. The original Elliston Place Shop is on the national register of historic places and has been featured in music videos, television programs and more. A second Elliston Place Soda Shop location will open in Franklin in the spring of 2018. For more information, visit www.ellistonplacesodashop.com.