Tuesday, January 10, 2012

John Dean, Founder of McCabe Pub, Dies at 65

Posted by on Tue, Jan 10, 2012 at 12:34 PM

John Dean, who founded popular Sylvan Park neighborhood spot McCabe Pub in 1982 with his wife Josephine, died Saturday. A memorial is planned for this Saturday, Jan. 14, at the pub, 4410 Murphy Road. Visitation will 2-5 p.m. and "a celebration of life with family and dear friends" will follow from 6-8 p.m.

With the proliferation of pre-fab corporate "pubs," it's hard to appreciate how important McCabe was to Sylvan Park as the neighborhood underwent its renaissance over the past 30 years. Dean named the pub after the nearby city-owned McCabe Golf Course, which was one of the few landmarks people outside the neighborhood had heard of back in '82.

Much more than just a typical sports bar, McCabe has been an anchor of the neighborhood, with a strong core of local customers, plus folks from other parts of town attracted by McCabe's diverse menu of burgers, Southern cuisine, daily soups and specials, grilled trout and salmon, and killer desserts.

Scene writer Kay West penned a story in 2006 to herald McCabe's upcoming 25th anniversary, and spoke to John Dean and his wife, daughters, friends and regular customers, including Scene contributor Walter Jowers and his wife Brenda:

"On the day Brenda was to deliver their daughter, Walter ran over to McCabe at lunchtime for a quick bite," West writes. "When he explained where Brenda was, Josephine sent him on his way with a big salad and a slice of pumpkin cheesecake, which the new mom consumed shortly after giving birth at 9 that night." West adds that just as Josephine tells the story, Walter Jowers walked in the door to have dinner with Jess — now grown and a McCabe customer since birth.

  • McCabePub.com
The McCabe menu has always been a lot more interesting than stereotypical bar food The cheeseburger is highly ranked in the city's annals. And West traces the origin of another offbeat Southern specialty on the menu, fried chicken livers — an idea John got from another veteran restaurateur, John Rotier.

"He said they sold the heck out of ’em over at his place," Dean said. "So I figured we’d give them a try. We sell the heck out of ’em, too.”

Dean could be stubborn and a bit irascible. In West's story, Josephine recounts how long it took her to convince him that an outdoor patio was a good idea. "One day he finally said, ‘Well, if you want to do it, go ahead.’ He barely had the words out of his mouth, and I was out the door running to get the furniture. I was afraid he would change his mind.” The patio's a very popular feature when the weather allows.

Though an opinionated and sometimes prickly character, John Dean attracted devoted friends and had a multitude of interests. According to the obituary prepared by his family, "His enjoyment of politics, history, culture, and travel led him to opening a hotel in Pokhara, Nepal in 1997." The full obituary is at the funeral home website. You can read the text after the jump.

Dean, John Richard, age 65 of Nashville, TN. Left this earth on Saturday, January 7 2012.

Preceded in death by his parents John I. Dean and Jessie Lee Smitha Dean. Survived by his wife of 43 years, Josephine Strong Dean, daughters Christene (Joe) Coode, Ronnie (Danny) Francescon, Stefanie (Jason) Brown, and Katie Dean, six grandchildren Daniel, Maddie, and Wesley Francescon, Olivia and Austin Coode, and Dean Brown; sister Edna (David) Rideout; aunt Joyce Smitha; niece Sarah (Jeremy) Moore, nephew John Ed (Andrea) Hahn, grandnieces and nephews MacKenzie Moore, Josh and Drew; close friends, Price and Kit Lechleiter, Roshan and Yumi Bhattarai, and Ashok Bhattarai and all of his beloved friends.

Born and raised in West Nashville, John graduated from Cohn High School in 1964, and attended MTSU, Belmont, and finally UT Knoxville. He first opened the Cosmic Ballroom in the early 70s, then Doug's Pub before he and his wife opened McCabe Pub in 1982. John was very active in local politics and passionately advocated for the protection of individuals' property rights. His enjoyment of politics, history, culture, and travel led him to opening a hotel in Pokhara, Nepal in 1997.

John looked forward to his daily routine with all his friends. He was a member of the Garden Club in Sylvan Park (The Hut), the Hillsboro Hounds, and the Hooligans. He was never one to back down from a good debate. Those who knew John best knew that his inner spirit shone through regardless of whether he agreed with you or not.

Visitation will be at McCabe Pub, 4410 Murphy Road on Saturday, January 14 from 2-5 p.m. and a celebration of life with family and dear friends from 6-8 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The LAM Foundation at www.thelamfoundation.org, 4015 Executive Park Drive, Ste. 320, Cincinnati, OH 45241 or The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation at www.CCFA.org.

To all his many friends and loved ones — "Namaste, and don't forget to hide the eggs."

Marshall-Donnelly-Combs Funeral Home, 615-327-1111

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