You might say great barbecue is in his blood. After all, Andy Marshall was born in Memphis, and later owned a chain of Piggly Wiggly grocery stores.
But when he was ready to make a career shift, his country music friend, Pam Tillis, suggested he look at a little grocery store for sale in Leiper’s Fork. He had never heard of Leiper’s Fork at the time, because growing up it was called “Hillsboro”. Then two days later, Bill Hewitt, owner of Hewitt Garden & Design, called Andy and told him about, “a little country grocery store in Leiper’s Fork he should look at.”
It All Started in the village of Leiper’s Fork
It was 1998, and Andy told his wife it was too much of a coincidence not to check it out. He did, and the rest is history as that tiny village has been transformed with the help of other visionaries like Aubrey Preston who purchased 200 acres on each end of the town and placed the property into a land trust. It started a preservation movement and revitalization of the Leiper’s Fork community. Now Puckett’s Grocery in Leiper’s Fork has been in business for seven decades starting back in the 1950s. In 2008, Andy sold the Leiper’s Fork Puckett’s to Rob Robinson.
Hometown Boy Fulfills Outstanding Destiny
Franklin has been Andy’s hometown since he was twelve years old. He graduated from Franklin High School in 1979, and has a great love and appreciation for his town. Not only was Andy a great player for Franklin’s football team as #53, but we was also voted “Most Outstanding Senior Boy.”
His high school yearbook read, “This year Andy Marshall has been chosen as our Most Outstanding Senior Boy. Last year Andy won the Boys’ State Award and served as FCA Vice President. He was also a big asset to the football team for three years and a hard working student council representative. Andy is definitely a very well-deserved recipient of this honor. He plans to attend Tennessee Tech and major in mechanical engineering.”
A Downtown Franklin Success Story
After several years operating the Leiper’s Fork store, Andy’s focus turned to downtown Franklin. He explains, “I wanted to create a flagship store in downtown. Franklin is my hometown.
“We love the historic location, and in 2004 wanted to be a part of the Franklin’s revival. Puckett’s in historic downtown Franklin has been a natural fit. We are thrilled when we hear Puckett’s is the first place people want to come to when visiting Franklin.”
Thanks to the efforts of the Downtown Franklin Association which was founded in 1984, DFA spearheaded the revitalization of Franklin’s downtown core. It’s parent organization, the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, and the DFA have created a Main Street success story with its partnerships with property owners, preservationists, local government, businesses and merchants.
From a Blacksmith Shop to one of Franklin’s Most Beloved Restaurants
Located at 120 4th Avenue South, Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant is just one block off Franklin’s historic Main Street, it’s next to other great restaurants like Merridee’s Breadbasket, Cork & Cow, 55 South, and conveniently located across from the 4th Avenue free parking garage.
The Puckett’s building has a great history. It was built in the early 1900s. In 1913, it was a local blacksmith shop, then the first Chrysler dealership in the county and auto repair shop, Franklin Garage. Eventually, it became a bicycle shop before Andy purchased the location.
It’s All About Great Southern Cooking
We asked Andy his favorite Puckett’s breakfast and dinner meals. “I love our Fried Chicken & Apple Jack Pancakes. They are topped with Tennessee whiskey-fried apples with fried chicken tenders drizzled in whiskey syrup. My favorite dinner is our Piggy Mac, our slow smoked BBQ pork mixed with our mac and cheese and toasted in an iron skillet with biscuit crumbs….yum!”
Puckett’s BBQ pork remains their most popular item. All of their “Low and Slow” items are smoked 18 hours over cherry wood, the traditional dry rub Memphis way including their baby back ribs and brisket.
Some of their other Tennessee favorites include Chicken Fried Chicken, Country Fried Steak, and the Music City Hot Chicken Sandwich. Puckett’s is also famous for their skillet breakfasts and delicious cobblers and cinnamon roll bread pudding, and The King’s French Toast, a nod to Andy’s birthplace of Memphis and his love for Elvis Presley.
Bring the Flavors of Puckett’s Home
Thanks to their online store, the flavors of Puckett’s are being enjoyed nationwide. Andy says, “I actually created the spices and sauces several years ago with several of our teammates sitting around a table critiquing and refining till there was a common “oh yes this is the one!”. It was fun doing all the research and it has paid off greatly.”
Part of the proceeds from their sauces and spices go towards their education scholarships they offer through Hospitality TN for future culinary and hospitality leaders. You can find their spices in Kroger, Publix and Meijer’s grocery stores.
As CEO of A. Marshall Hospitality, Andy sold the Leiper’s Fork Puckett’s to the Robinson’s, but his restaurant group has grown to include six more Puckett’s locations. From their flagship store in downtown Franklin, they are in Nashville, Murfreesboro, Columbia, Chattanooga, and Pigeon Forge. His Deacon’s New South is an upscale dry-aged steak house in downtown Nashville.
Hear Some of Nashville’s Best Live Music on This Stage
You can’t think of Puckett’s without thinking about live music. Andy shares how it all began, “We started doing music in Leiper’s Fork around 2002, and it has been part of who we are ever since. So many amazingly talented people live there as well as Franklin. It just felt natural to the community to start playing there.
“I can’t begin to make a list of people who have graced our stages without leaving some amazing writers and artists behind. However, I do have a couple of favorite stories. Vince Gill played with a writer in Franklin, and stayed to sign autographs for everyone. Afterwards, Vince sat with the staff and rolled silverware and shared stories with them until about 1 o’clock in the morning. None of us will forget his kindness. Vince is the real deal.
“Another country artist, Chris Jansen, is another fun story. He started playing in Leiper’s Fork with us when he was just a young gun. You could tell on that tiny stage that this guy was gonna go far. His talent is over the top, and I know he will do well for years to come.”
New Dreams and Old Friends
New on the horizon for the A. Hospitality team is a fast casual concept called Puckett’s PDQ (Pretty Darn Quick) offering hot meals to go or dine in. Certainly this last year has taught us we need to diversify from being so dependent on dine-in only. We will also be opening a Puckett’s in the Nashville Airport late this summer. We are always thinking and challenging ourselves as to what’s next.
“Throughout 2020, Covid was a hard test on our entire world, and especially small businesses and the hospitality industry. We were challenged to find ways to keep as many associates employed as possible.
“There was nothing we weren’t willing to try including, gift card sales, delivering to neighborhoods, having our trolley deliver hot meals, improving our to-go packaging, working with the city to get designated pick up spaces, and leading from the front on sanitation.
“The greatest thing we learned from last year is how much our customers love us and are pulling for us through it all. This will never be forgotten!”
Eat Local and Strengthen Franklin’s Economy
Because small businesses make up the greater part of our nation’s economy, it’s vital to support them, along with the towns and communities they serve. “Never forget that shopping local keeps the money local as we tend to support each other to build our city’s economy,” explains Andy.
Andy’s favorite thing to do in Franklin is walking the downtown streets. “There is such a positive energy and vibe that just makes me happy. It’s an amazing community to be a part of.”
Franklin is the Perfect Slice of Americana
We asked Andy to describe his beloved hometown of Franklin in one word. His response, “Americana!”
Andy Marshall, a truly American entrepreneurial success story, hometown hero, and loyal friend to our lovely Franklin.
We are Lovely Franklin,