The Gray’s Drugstore building at 332 Main St. is known for its iconic neon sign, but the space has been vacant for a while, and Marshall said that bothered him. “As vibrant as downtown Franklin is, it’s been a shame to see it empty,” Marshall told me in this week's Food Biz column in the Nashville Post section of The City Paper.
Marshall's a busy guy. He and his team are also expanding the Puckett's brand, with a new location coming to Columbia this fall and a new Puckett's Trolley already being deployed to festivals and private events.
The new restaurant in Franklin is a different concept, which Marshall is calling Gray’s on Main. His operating partners in the project are Joni and Michael Cole.
The menu at Gray’s on Main will take inspiration from Southern foodways, Marshall said, including the cuisine of the Carolinas and the Low Country, with lots of seafood. There will be an emphasis on shared plates, with “appetizers for people to sit down and enjoy together, as family or friends.”
Marshall said it will take a fair amount of construction to convert the old pharmacy to a modern restaurant, but he hopes to open in September.
Also coming this fall is the new Puckett’s in Columbia, going into the old Porter-Walker building across from the town’s historic courthouse. And it might not be the last Puckett’s outpost, Marshall said.
He’s looking at adding future locations in Murfreesboro, Chattanooga and Memphis. (The original Puckett's in Leiper's Fork was sold to a different group.)
But the most unique Puckett’s spinoff is the new trolley. “It’s like its own location, a mini-business on wheels,” Marshall said. Unlike many of the food trucks roaming Nashville’s streets, it contains a full mobile kitchen, including a flat-top grill, a fryer, a refrigerator, a freezer and a three-compartment sink. “We designed it so we could work out of it for two days,” he said.
Marshall said the team found a used trolley bus and had it completely refitted as a kitchen, a process that took six months. The idea was to make the trolley flexible enough to serve up fun food at festivals as well as more ambitious menu items for weddings and private events.
He said he put the trolley through its paces for the first time March 17 at the Main Street Brew Fest in Franklin. “It ran beautifully,” he said. “The flow inside the trolley was very efficient. People were able to get a fresh-cooked meal in under five minutes.”
The trolley won’t travel the streets for regular lunch or dinner service like other food trucks, concentrating instead on festivals and private-party bookings. Puckett’s held a contest on Facebook to name the rolling kitchen — the winning moniker was Trolley Parton.