“I don’t look at us as a normal restaurant. We’re a destination for people to come. When people come and
visit Franklin, it is amazing the amount of tourists we get here saying, ‘Hey I heard about Puckett’s, I want to come here.'”
This is what Tom Zazzetti, General Manager, had to say about Downtown Franklin’s popular Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant, in our latest in-person interview with him. Offering tasty southern comfort food, live music, outdoor seating, and even a grocery store, it is clear that Puckett’s is not just any other restaurant. Have a look at our interview with Zazzetti below to learn more about this unique establishment.
1. How did you begin working as the general manager at Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant?
I’ve been in the restaurant business for 35 years. I started working as a busser when I was 14 years old. When I turned 18 and graduated high school there was a management opening available. My family had always been in the restaurant business so it was kind of in my blood. I was 5-6 years old going to work for my dad who ran a restaurant so it’s kind of how I got my start. I worked in the Chicago area all my life until, it’ll be 5 years this October that I moved down here, and 5 years at Puckett’s.
Seven years ago I came down here to visit my brother and sister in law and thought, “Wow, it is pretty neat down here.” A year later I came down again and really started getting the itch. The first place, ironically, that my brother took me to eat was here [Puckett’s in Downtown Franklin]. This was before I had any inkling that I was going to come back.
When I started looking in the following year, I saw an ad on Craigslist. I applied for the job, interviewed over the phone, and then I came down to interview with Andy over at the Boat House. I knew the day I interviewed with him that I wanted to work for this company. It was a natural fit for me. I trained for about 2 months and then about 3 1/2 months later, the GM position had an opening and they offered it to me. I’ve been here ever since.
2. How did Pucketts Gro. & Restaurant first get started?
Andy was in the grocery business. He owned 10 Piggly Wiggly’s. He came across Leipers Fork, which was a small grocery store and restaurant. You would just walk up to the counter and order food. He kept that going for a while. In 2001, this place [Downtown Franklin location] became available. He came here, while he was still operating Leipers Fork, because he wanted to get into a more full service concept with more space. This restaurant here kind of catapulted all of our growth. This is where it all started. We opened this one, we opened in Nashville, we opened the Boat House, we opened in Columbia, but everything started really happening in short order over the first 3 or 4 years.
We make them feel like they’re one of us. We treat everybody like family. My goal as general manager is that I want my customers leaving here happier than when they came in. That’s the most important thing. We treat everybody like they’re family here. We’re very down to earth, and we want to give them that southern charm.
4. What kind of food is served at Puckett’s Restaurant?
We want to give people that southern comfort food, as we call it, but barbecue is our specialty, such as our Barbecue pork. We smoke with cherry wood which is very unique. A lot of places smoke with hickory, but we smoke with cherry wood. We smoke everything we can smoke. We smoke our ribs, we smoke our pork, we smoke our brisket, and we smoke our chicken. We take a lot of pride in the smoking process. It is a long, tedious process, but the old slogan is “low and slow,” which means low temperature and slow. It lets all that cherry flavor get into our meats.
5. What products are sold in your grocery store?
All of our barbecue sauces and spices are available retail-wise here, and then at all of the local middle Tennessee Kroger and Publix grocery stores also.
6. How is Puckett’s Gro. and Restaurant involved in the local community?
We give a lot back to the community. We’re always involved in fundraising events. Two of our restaurants were involved in Raise The Roof, and we are also involved with the Rotary Club. Andy is probably one of the most generous people, which is great because he gives back what he gets. Andy very seldom tells anybody, but we are there.
7. What makes Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant unique?
What makes it unique is again going back to the southern charm, southern hospitality, and making people feel like family. I don’t look at us as a normal restaurant. We’re a destination for people to come. When people come and visit Franklin, it is amazing the amount of tourists we get here saying, “Hey I heard about Puckett’s, I want to come here.” That’s really helped us evolve our growth in our name.
8. What services are provided by Puckett’s for private events?
We have a full service catering team. We do weddings, we do graduation parties, we do meetings, and we do drop sets. We customize all our menus per the customer’s needs. We also do private events, but most of our catering is offsite.
9. How can people stay up to date on Puckett’s live music rosters and upcoming events?
We do music here at this location 6 days a week [Downtown Franklin location]. This is where the music really got started was at this location here. This room here has really outstanding acoustics, it really does. We have music boards on the outside, and the music rosters are posted on the website also.
10. Where are you located and what are your hours?
We’re open 7 days a week, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We open at 7:00 a.m. every day. We are open till 9:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
11. Bonus Question! What is your favorite meal at Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant?
My favorite meal at Puckett’s is The Piggy Mac. It has barbecue pork on the bottom, and mac & cheese on top of it with our spicy barbecue sauce.
Thank you, Tom Zazzetti, for doing this interview with us! We had so much fun learning more about Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant.
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