Arnold’s Country Kitchen, the iconic Eighth Avenue meat-and-three restaurant, will close next week. Its final service will be next Saturday. Arnold Real Property LLC, the family-owned company that owns Arnold’s, has agreed to sell the property in the new year.
A spokesman for family matriarch Rose Arnold told the Banner this is not a situation like the Exit/In and other Nashville landmarks that have come under increasing pressure from development. Rose Arnold will retire and some form of the restaurant is likely to continue under her son Khalil Arnold.
Opened in 1983, Arnold’s simple, concrete block building became a destination for everyone from politicians to country stars to construction workers, serving up Southern favorites like fried chicken, catfish and roast beef on a steam table alongside fried green tomatoes, turnip greens, cornbread and more. For dessert lovers, the classic chocolate pie comes with a warning that it has been infused with chili flakes; the pecan pie is sweet enough to pucker your face.
Along the way, Arnold’s developed a reputation for carrying on the vanishing tradition of meat-and-threes that used to dominate the Nashville culinary scene. The James Beard Foundation named the restaurant one of its America’s Classic Award winners in 2009.
In 2014, the restaurant expanded and added additional tables. In 2020, Arnold’s added a bar and dinner service to what had previously been only a lunch operation and dubbed the expansion “Arnold’s After Dark.” The steam table remained, but main dishes like a smoked hanger steak were added for a more upscale experience.
The Eighth Avenue area around Arnold’s hardly was considered prime real estate when Jack and Rose Arnold opened it in the early ‘80s, but the creation of the Gulch in the 2000s led to a steady redevelopment of the area once dotted by storage facilities and antique malls. The building alone now is assessed by the county at more than $2 million with the adjacent parking lots, also owned by the family, assessed at more than double that amount.