Gray’s on Main: Anchor of Downtown Franklin, Tennessee

Located in an 1876 Victorian-style building and sporting a neon sign that has been a fixture on Main Street in Franklin, Tennessee, since 1952, Gray’s on Main is a popular restaurant featuring imaginative dishes with a Southern twang.

Location: 332 Main Street, Franklin, Tennessee

Menu: The menu is seasonal, subject to the availability of produce and the whims of the chef. Currently, the lunch menu at Gray’s on Main features a grape jelly meatball sub, a duck and pear sandwich and a salmon and quinoa salad, along with more traditional offerings. Diners will always find several choices in the categories of Shareables, Salads, Pizzas and Desserts.

My granddaughter and I went recently for lunch because we share a birth date and enjoyed our bacon-wrapped figs stuffed with goat cheese appetizer (because they sounded fancy and decadent), a Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich and a chicken salad sandwich. For our next visit, we’ve already spotted the burrata and honey roasted squash or the shrimp and crab gumbo grits.

At Suppertime (the name given on the menu), chicken, pork, salmon and beef are available, but the Cauliflower Steak sounded most intriguing. I would have to give that a try.

Gray’s serves its original version of banana pudding for dessert and prepares a different flavor of gelato each week.

The bar menu endeavors to pair appropriately with the seasonal dishes coming from the kitchen. The selection of cocktails and wines is self-described as “vintage and epicurean.”

Thoughts: The Gray’s building began its life 143 years ago as a pharmacy. Michael and Joni Cole fell in love with the building and its location when they moved to Franklin from Alabama in 2006, but had to wait five more years before it went on sale. They snatched it up and started the year-long process of renovating and remodeling. Franklin’s heritage and Michael’s love of antiques are displayed prominently in the decor.

The townspeople were particularly pleased to see so much of the building’s original character retained and incorporated, including the tin ceilings. Scattered among the various vintage pieces are framed photos of famous people in Williamson County’s history. Exposed brick and dark wood paneling, combined with hardwood floors, windows trimmed with stained glass and distinctive light fixtures, create an atmosphere of nostalgia and impeccable taste.

Gray’s on Main is perfectly situated for lunch during a day of shopping in the many quaint shops of Main Street or for a dinner date before attending a performance at the Franklin Theater right across the street. Street parking is limited, but there is a parking lot in the rear for a small fee.

Gray’s is actually a three-story building. The first story is the restaurant, the second is a music venue with live performers weekly, and the third floor is an exclusive private club called Society.

Last year, the Coles acquired the adjoining building and opened a bar and casual restaurant called O’ Be Joyful. It serves burgers, hot dogs, wings, lots of brews and spirits and is a great complement to Gray’s.

Price range: Shareables are $8-9. Salads are $12. Lunch entrees are $12-18. Dinner entrees are $21-36. Desserts are $6-9.

Connie Pearson

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