Fresh Express, 383-4866
Every Tuesday, I am reminded of the song “I Don’t Like Mondays” by The Boomtown Rats. Not that I have any inclination whatsoever to go out and shoot up a schoolyard, but for everyone connected to putting out the newspaper you are currently holding in your handswhether they work in an editorial, graphics, or sales capacityTuesday can be a Very Bad Day.
Around town, procrastinating freelance writersa redundancy if there ever was oneare putting the finishing touches on their columns before e-mailing them to the Scene headquarters on Eighth Avenue South, which is a living, breathing exercise in controlled chaos. Staff writers are holed up in their cubicles, phones surgically attached to their ears, eyes fixed on their screens, fingers pounding away at the keyboards. Editors are culling through reams of copy, tweaking, correcting, cutting, and cursing the writers. The graphics department is laying out pages, and the sales staff is chasing late-arriving ads.
Every once in a while, people wander over and look at the paste-up boards, which by mid-afternoon actually begin to resemble a finished product. Still, one minute there’s too much space, the next there’s not enough. The goal is to get the entire paper to the printer by 8 p.m. so that on early Wednesday morning, drivers can load it into their vans and begin dropping bundles at your neighborhood news rack.
Wrestling with my own demonsand hoping out of sight means out of mind to the editor awaiting my copyI steer clear of the Scene offices on the first two days of the week. A couple of weeks ago, having already sent in two assignments but still in debt for another, I dropped by on a Tuesday morning just past 11 with a photo for our art director, who grunted at me without even looking up from her task. I trotted down the hall to submit an expense reimbursement request with the infamously crabby deputy managing editor, who couldn’t even bother to grunt at me.
Trying to slip past the managing editor’s cubby without being spotted, I bumped into Terry Lee Derrick. An oasis of calm in the midst of mayhem, Derrick was floating through the editorial department, poking his head in cubicles and asking in a kindly fashion, “Would you like anything today?” Everywhere he went, Derrick was greeted warmly, eagerly, with a genuine sense of relief and gratitude.
Forget about music; at times like these, it is food that soothes the savage beasts. Terry Lee Derrick was carrying a basket of freshly made sandwiches, salads, soups, and lunch-sized entrees in microwaveable trays. It was a vast improvement over the bags of peanut M&M’s and Dorito chips that passed for lunch on Tuesdays before Derrick’s business, Fresh Express, added the Scene to its list of appointed rounds. “Terry saves our butts on Tuesdays,” classified sales manager Sloan Searle said in an unsolicited testimonial delivered in the Scene kitchen.
Before moving to Nashville in July 1998, Derrick owned a catering business that serviced the film industry in Los Angeles. He came here, like hundreds before him, to sing and write. And like those hundreds before him, he found he needed a day job. Necessity being the mother of invention, Derrick wondered if a food service that brought lunch to busy offices might pay the bills while he awaited his big break.
He approached a few businesses, who responded positively to his query. He found a cook, purchased a couple of coolers, had some business cards made up, and he was officially in business. Business picked up so quickly, in fact, that he soon had to hire another driver and find a more efficient kitchen.
The cooking and food preparation is done at Take Away Catering in Bellevue, owned by Stephanie Knight and chef Mary Cornell. Five days a week, Derrick and the other driver load up their coolers and baskets and head out to feed the hungry hordes chained to their desks. There are no set menus, but customers can count on a few regular items to show up daily. Wrap sandwiches are popular, as are the chicken salad and tuna sandwiches, grilled chicken Caesar salad, and fall harvest salad. (Fresh Express brings no drinks, but occasionally desserts.)
Everything I sampled was indeed fresh, attractively packaged, and generously portioned; prices were moderate. Consisting of grilled, seasoned chicken strips with peppers, red onion, and cheddar cheese in a chipotle tortilla, the Sante Fe wrap was $5.75. The grilled chicken Caesar was $6.50. At $6.75, the vegetarian enchilada entree was large enough to serve as dinner to both of my children when supplemented with some fruit and carrot sticks.
Derrick and the other driver cover about 35 places on their two routesone circulating through Belle Meade, West End, and the outskirts of downtown, the other covering the Donelson Pike-Lebanon Road area. They hit the road by 10 a.m. so they can finish by noon; otherwise, people have already eaten or made other plans. “People eat lunch so early in Nashville,” Derrick observes.
It’s 7 a.m. Do you know where your latté is? If you’re working at Resource Building I in CoolSprings’ Corporate Centre, it’s parked right out front, being dispensed from a bright-red van manned by James Taylor. About 30 minutes later, Taylor moves to Building II, then Building IV. (Building III has its own cafeteria and a non-compete clause.) Following the Corporate Centre rounds, he moves to other office locations in the area, sets up in the parking lot of Lowe’s from around 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and then heads over to Riverside Drive in Franklin, where he stays until 3 p.m.
Taylor came up with the coffee-a-go-go concept in Seattle, where he designed and built the country’s first mobile cappuccino van. He remained there for nearly seven years, serving customers in the city’s commercial and industrial areas not tony enough for a Starbucks. In 1997, at the urging of some music-business friends, he moved to Nashville, where he briefly worked in finance before deciding it was time to get back on the road. He bought himself another van, did his research with the local health department, contacted several property management representatives in Williamson County, and in October began doing business as Cappuccino Joe’s.
In addition to coffee drinks like espresso, latté, and cappuccino, Taylor also serves hot and cold teas, hot cocoa, Italian sodas, and bottled juices. He gets his espresso from Seattle and his other coffee beans from Bongo Java Roasting Company. Baked goods, sandwiches, hot dogs, and Polish sausages are also available. Recently, he has begun carrying his own line of cookieschocolate and white chocolate chip dipped in dark or white chocolatealong with pecan squares and gourmet krispy treats.
Cappuccino Joe’s is available for catering and special events. Taylor can be contacted daily at 476-6033.
What’s cookin’ in Nashville kitchens these days? Plenty if you’re trying to keep track of the heads under the toques. Kim Totzke is back in the kitchen at Fido following the departure of Nerissa Ferrell, who is now cooking at Loews Vanderbilt Plaza. Totzke, who bequeathed the Fido kitchen to her understudy when Totzke was reassigned to manage Bongo Java, is now splitting her time between both stores. She has streamlined the Fido menu, has instituted all-day breakfast, and is concentrating on keeping the daily specials fresh and fast. She is currently tweaking the Bongo Java menu but notes that though BJ has seen an increase in food sales, it remains more of a coffeehouse, while Fido leans more toward a cafe.
Bobby Kornsuwan, who opened Orchid Cafe several years ago, then parted to open Siam Cuisine on White Bridge Road, has left that restaurant as well. He had plans well under way for a new restaurant concept in Brentwood, but the location fell through. He is currently cooking at Magnolias in Franklin. Kornsuwan’s wife Aoy is still cooking at Siam Cuisine. Her family opened the first Thai restaurant in Nashville, Siam Cafe, on McCall off Nolensville Road.
Rumors were flying that Michael Cribb, renowned pepperhead and esoteric Zen foodie, had left the Bound’ry kitchen to open his own restaurant, but he is in fact still there, working with executive chef Willy Thomas. Construction is under way again at the property next door to Bound’ry, with revised plans to open a global-cuisine restaurant within the next 120 days.
Despite serious overtures by several interested parties, the space at 12th Avenue South and Elmwood, vacant since the closing of Laurell’s Central Market this summer, remains available. With plenty of parking, a huge kitchen, seating for at least 60, and zoning for beer, wine, and liquor sales, it’s the perfect location for a hip, edgy independent restaurant to serve the thriving 12South neighborhood and Granny White Pike commuters. Joel Solomon and Mark Deutschmann, who have been the driving forces behind the naming and development of 12South, own the building, which also houses Trim hair salon.