Brown’s Diner and Boom Times in Nashville

I’m sitting at Brown’s Diner as I type this, thinking about Nashville’s explosive growth and how it affects all of us – connecting a few dots in my mind.
Some long-time Nashvillians – native and otherwise – are decrying our “It City” status, and longing for better times past. While I could do with less traffic, a moratorium on “tall-skinny” construction, and an outright ban on pedal taverns, I’m not complaining.
I’ve been here for 42 years and I’ve seen a lot of change – some good, some not-so-good. But none of it can be undone, and more will come. So, we deal with it.
Brown’s Diner is a perfect illustration. Forty-two years ago, Brown’s was right where it is today at the corner of 21st and Blair – a tiny building with a single counter, a row of stools, and thick clouds of cigarette smoke, where you went for a cold beer and a really good cheeseburger.

Some years back, an addition quadrupled the dining space. More recently, new health laws cleared the air. It’s no longer the tiny, historic, street-car based diner of old. And I know some people who are still upset by this. 

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That said, you can still sit on a stool at the original counter and gab with a waitress. The ceiling tiles are still sagging, and the utterly disreputable carpet studded with beer bottle caps in still in place. But you can breathe the air without endangering your health, and you can still get a cold beer and decent fries along with one of the best cheeseburgers on the planet. 
I’ll take the “new” Brown’s.
When I came here forty-two years ago, Nashville was a lot like the old Brown’s. Down-at-heel and listless. Good food was virtually non-existent. Retail was limited at best. Arts and entertainment options were underwhelming. Downtown was rapidly dying, and in-town neighborhoods were either dying or outright dangerous. 
We have come a long way!
What’s good about the new? Food, arts, entertainment, business, and cultural diversity. We still have lots of green space, we still have good manners for the most part, and we have endurable winters (though I have my reservations about our summers).
What’s not so good about the new? We are losing affordable housing. Our traffic is rapidly spinning out of control. And we seem to have little in the way of plans to deal with either problem.
What do we do? As a realtor, my job is to advocate for better housing and traffic solutions. If I – and all of us – don’t, we will lose the qualities that have made Nashville such a wonderful town in the first place. Call or email, and we can discuss at length.