Almost 10 years ago, Mohammad Karimy, his wife Shiva, and their daughter, Shahed, moved to Nashville from Iran. Mohammad, who had formerly been in the Oriental rug business, went to work at McDonald’s for $3.65 an hour. Shiva worked two jobs while attending classes at Nashville Tech. In 1992 the Karimys opened the first Fat Mo’s on Richards Road in Antioch, a street that had seen better days. In 1994, the second Fat Mo’s opened at 2620 Franklin Rd. in the Melrose neighborhood. Their third location at 1216 Murfreesboro Rd. opened one year ago in September 1996. And just five months ago, the fourth Fat Mo’s opened at 2804 Gallatin Pike.
Mohammad learned a thing or two during his stint at Micky D’s, and Lesson No. 1 was “Give the people their money’s worth,” a motto that’s served him well in the blue-collar neighborhoods where Mo has chosen to set up shop. A quarter-pounder at Fat Mo’scalled the Little Mo, but still quite a mouthfulwill only set you back $1.69. The Fat Mo’s Super Deluxe Burgerover 27 ounces of meat with grilled mushrooms, onions, barbecue sauce, bacon, and Mo’s trademark jalapeño pepperscould almost feed a family of four, but it still only costs $6.49. The quarter-pound all-beef hot dog, grilled and served on a hefty bun, is just $1.35.
During his tenure at McDonald’s, Mo also learned to make a better burger. According to Shiva, her husband was sorely disappointed with the burgers he sampled in Nashville. Designed to beat the competition, all his Fat Mo burgers are made with 85 percent lean beef, seasoned with garlic, hand-patted, and marinated. The Karimys have opened a commissary, called Mrs. Mo’s, where they make all the burger patties for their restaurants.
With the exception of the Murfreesboro Road store, all Fat Mo’s stores are take-out. Because everything is made fresh, you won’t get your burger in 60 seconds, but the long lines attest to the virtures of patience. At the Murfeesboro Road location, which I assume to be a former Taco Bell (serapes still adorn the walls), you can wait for your order in air-conditioned comfort.
In another inspirational tale of hardworking entrepreneurship, meet William Jimenez. You’ll find Señor Jimenez Sr. seven days a week, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., at La Hispana Bakery, Panaderia y Pasteleria at 3619 Nolensville Rd., between Precision Auto Detail and Whitt’s Barbecue.
Open since April, La Hispana is a teensy space manned by Jimenez and his son, William Jr., but the glass display cases offer an education in Mexican baking. Almost immediately, you notice a dearth of chocolate productsperhaps Mexicans save their cocoa for mole. What you will find, however, are lots of sweet bread products in most cases, it’s the bread that’s sweet, not the innards. We sampled everything and found much to like.
There are two types of fruit-filled turnoversan empanada with a crusty exterior and another version that is more flaky. Cinammon and sugar figure largely in the toppings, and there’s one selection that is nothing more than sliced bread spread with sweet butter and cinammon sugar. Several varieties of cookies, all of them soft and crumbly, are available, as is Mexican cheesecake, made with cream cheese and two types of milk, and then baked like a sheet cake. According to Jimenez, the most labor-intensive pastries are the fruit-centered stars, which are flaky, light, and sugary. Our favorites were the pastries were the elephant ears and bowties. Better yet, the bill for two large boxes, brimful of pastries, was $14.45.
La Hispana Bakery also carries some Hispanic grocery products and beverages, as well as a fine display of piñatas. Jimenez says his customers don’t just come from the Mexican community. He also attracts natives of South America, Europe, West Africa, and more than a few curious gringos.
La Hispana Bakery, Panaderia y Pasteleria is located at 3619 Nolensville Rd. (781-9578). Credit cards accepted.
Twice a month, a friend of mine from Lafayette, La., used to satisfy her cravings for red beans and rice at Bro’s, which was located on Murphy Road across from Sylvan Park restaurant. She confesses that there were times she didn’t make it out of the parking lot before she had polished off a large order. To the dismay of many customers, owner Darrell Breaux lost his lease a few months ago and closed his doors. My friend will be glad to know that he has relocated in a small room on one side of Sylvan Park South restaurant. The location is a fur piece out Nolensville Road, so she may want to stock up the next time she goes. In addition to RB&R, Breaux dishes up gumbo, shrimp creole, boudin sausage, crawfish étouffée, and daily specials like Cajun catfish.
Bro’s Cajun Cuisine is located at 5207 Nolensville Rd. (781-3077). Open Mon-Fri.,11 a.m.-8 p.m., and Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Nashville’s Table, Middle Tennessee’s only rescue program for prepared and perishable food, was created in 1989. Since then, Nashville’s Table has provided more than 1.5 million meals to more than 65 nonprofit agencies that aid the hungry and homeless. All the food is collected from area restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and grocery storesmore than 160 businesses participate. There is no charge for the distribution.
With summer behind us, it’s never too soon to start thinking of holiday greeting cards, and the Nashville Table Holiday Card Program is underway. The card, created as a gift to Nashville’s Table, was designed by local artist Creason Clayton. It is based on Clayton’s watercolor “First Snow” and captures the first snowfall at the Boxwood Garden Gazebo at Burlington Mansion. For every $15 you contribute to Nashville’s Table, you receive 10 holiday cardseach of which is fat-free and calorie-free to boot. Inside, the ecumenical, politically correct message reads, “Wishing you the best this holiday season.” For an extra $20, you can have a company name or custom message imprinted as well. (A minimum order of 100 cards is required for special imprinting.) Orders must be placed by Dec.1, 1997.
For more information, contact Nashville’s Table at 615-244-4564.