Morrison’s To Blackberry Farm To Reverie

Dinner at Belle Meade Cafeteria, Nashville TN
This, alas, isn’t a pic of food from Morrison’s but from another cafeteria we’ve been to that has since disappeared — the Belle Meade Cafeteria in Nashville.
For whatever reason, the other day I came across this very nice remembrance of Morrison’s at the Creative Loafing – Tampa site called ‘Morrison’s Cafeteria as Theatre: Memories of Perfect Shrimp and Tartar Sauce’. 
The most popular restaurant in my very young (pre-high school) life was Morrison’s Cafeteria.  It was my grandparent’s go-to place if we were eating out.  “Home base” was the one at the Gadsden Mall, very close to one of the entrances.  Hot, wet trays.  Green cloth-wrapped silverware.  Salads (which included glass cups of sparkling jello cubes), desserts (they deliberately put the desserts early on so you got one before realizing at the end you didn’t need it, didn’t they?) vegetables, entrees, breads (remember those *huge* slices of garlic bread? and the cornpones? and the giant rolls with a smudge of flour on top? and the mexican cornbread?) red- or brown- colored plastic tumblers for the beverages, and finally the wait at the register while the bill was tabulated.  Oh!  And if you needed help with your tray, the buzzer was rung.  
Ah, Morrison’s.
It actually began in Mobile in 1920 and at one time was a chain of 150 or so restaurants.
I got a student loan once to attend the University of South Alabama (USA) in Mobile — at the time, I wanted to be a teacher (as it wound up, I graduated from a different college with a BBA, and also a BS in Lib Arts, and never took a single class to be a teacher).  One of my best friends was also going to go to USA with me — but wound up graduating from Texas.  We went apartment shopping and found a sweet carriage house apartment behind a larger very nice home off Old Shell Road.  
Trying to figure out how our lives in Mobile would differ from our lives in our hometown, we talked about where we would worship (I liked Springhill Avenue Temple) and how we would spend our time (going to classes, studying, and working like crazy – probably at a restaurant somewhere like so many other college kids) and what we’d do for fun (driving over to the beach every chance we got).  I remember my friend saying “I don’t even know what they eat in Mobile,” and I said “well, they have a Morrison’s so we’ll never go hungry.”  
I didn’t yet know about Wintzell’s or Brick Pit or Tiny Diny or Pollman’s Bakery or the Dew Drop, even.  Back then, Nan-Seas and The Pillars were still around.  I had no idea what West Indies salad was at the time.  As it turned out, USA wasn’t the college either of us would graduate from.  But I felt reassured that if we had stayed, we would not waste away knowing that there was a Morrison’s in town.
That Morrison’s in Mobile is still open.  I think every other one is now owned by Picadilly, which is based in Baton Rouge, and…it’s not the same.  Back in the ’80s, Morrison’s purchased Ruby Tuesday, which started in Knoxville.  To make things interesting: if you’re familiar with Blackberry Farm, the people that started it also founded Ruby Tuesday.  Oh, and Morrison’s for a time also had L&N Seafood which had those great biscuits, and the one remaining L&N even sells the biscuit mix.
Morrison’s still holds fond memories for me.  Memories of being with my sweet grandparents.
Back to Blackberry Farm: the owners’ home there was featured in a 2009 issue of Architectural Digest — the article includes a slideshow and the interior designer was my favorite, Suzanne Kasler from Atlanta.  
They’re beginning to sell private construction on the Farm property (est. $1.7 million for a three-bedroom cottage on a half-acre lot) also.
Me?  I’d **save $1.3 million** and forget the cottage on a half-acre.  I’d buy antebellum Reverie in Marion and never even give a moment of thought to the Blackberry Farm amenities I’d be missing.  Oh Reverie!

…elaborate plaster moldings and inlaid flooring, double parlors, magnificent dining room, 5 bedrooms with three full baths and a half bath. Greek Revival architecture, the home was patterned after the White House of the Confederacy in Richmond, VA. Points of interest include a ‘widow’s walk’ around the top of the home, a curved staircase with leaded stained glass windows above the landing. The grounds include a koi & gold fish water garden, outdoor room, knot garden with fountain, converted green house (conservatory), brick smoke house, spacious picket fenced dog run, carriage house (two car) and a wisteria arbor that is believed to be older than the home. Over 5,000 square feet. AC & htg. central upstairs and downstairs, modern kitchen, keeping room with working fireplace. Screened porch full length of rear of home with overhead fans.


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