McCreary’s Irish Pub: Natasha Hendrix

McCreary’s Irish Pub is celebrating its 10th anniversary this Saturday, and Natasha Hendrix has been greeting people at its downtown Franklin door since day one.

Though she took ownership of the restaurant only three years ago, Hendrix helped Darryl and Annie McCreary open the eatery in 2002—a couple who gave the restaurateur her first job at 15 years old at the former Jammin’ Java on Fifth Avenue at Fair Street.

“This was a natural progression,” she said. “I went from waitressing to running the place.”

Since Hendrix grabbed the reins, she hasn’t changed much. The restaurant still boasts Irish fare with a smattering of traditional pub grub.  The eclectic mix gives guests a menu of simple comfort foods in hearty portions, from Annie McCreary’s original Shepherd’s Pie recipe to a homemade Bailey’s Irish Crème cheesecake. And it’s even open for breakfast, serving up Irish Omelettes, “Bangers and Taters” and deep-fried fish as morning food.

“This is food you come get after a long, hard day,” she said. “It’s simple but tasty. We have homemade bread pudding and we bake our own soda bread. Our tartar sauce sells by the pint.”

Between the crackly fish ‘n’ chips and its intimate mom and pop feel, McCreary’s Pub is a watering hole for both the business lunch crowd and the wandering tourist.  The restaurant promotes communal seating in an intimate, 1,300-square-foot space nestled in the middle of Main Street’s fourth block.

“Our type of clientele welcomes sharing tables,” she said. “Eighty percent of our customers are local, like that table over there. But I always get a fuzzy feeling when I see two couples who’ve become friends over a shared table and a meal.”

From the exposed brick walls wrought with 100-year-old nail heads and the Darryl McCreary-handmade bar to St. Patrick’s prayer stenciled above customers’ heads, Hendrix’s space isn’t bereft of character. On the weekends, sounds from fiddles and bodhrans fly from the fingers of Celtic musicians who help cultivate the Irish authenticity. Hendrix said it’s the aura that envelops her pub community that pushed her to become a first-time business owner.

“I didn’t always want to own a restaurant,” she said. “It’s this particular one, its location and the people who come here, that lead me to buy it. There are no pretenses, just comfortable, casual fun.”

She said she believes it’s the locals who have captured both her and Franklin visitors’ hearts.

“It’s all about the people here,” she said. “The merchants all know one another and look out for each other, and it’s the same for the customers. We’re genuine, and that speaks to people.

“I recently overheard a group from Chicago talking about their disappointment in not discovering Franklin sooner. They wanted to spend more time in Franklin, not Nashville. We’ve become a destination, not a drive through.”

To learn more about McCreary’s Pub, visit them at 414 Main Street in downtown Franklin or go to www.mccrearyspub.com.