For the better part of the last decade, one of the most recognized and photographed landmarks in downtown Franklin remained unlit, only occasionally stuttering to life for special events and annual festivals.
Now, after more than a year of intensive renovations, the building will once again serve as a hub on one of the country’s most celebrated Main Streets: GRAYS on Main is commemorating its grand opening Sunday, Aug. 4 with a street closure from the Public Square to Fourth Avenue, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The restaurant and entertainment venue will offer tours, tastes and live music, with the historic Gray’s neon sign coming alive as darkness falls.
Previously, it had been announced that the grand opening would be held July 28. However, a collapsed sewer line on Main Street delayed the event. The City of Franklin immediately began work to repair the line, but the lack of water in the restaurant set training and preparations back to the point that the decision was made to delay the ceremony by one week, to August 4.
“We lost four days of training and thought it best to delay the grand opening event,” said GRAYS Owner Michael Cole. “The City of Franklin should be commended for springing to action and getting the pipe repaired. Now we can get back to training our staff and preparing to delight our guests at a ‘Taste of GRAYS’ on August 4.”
It’s important to us that we do it right, and we have some fun surprises in store for everyone who attends our grand opening ceremony. It will be worth the wait.”
The following Monday, Aug. 5, GRAYS on Main will be open for business at 11 a.m.
In the spring of 2012, Puckett’s family of restaurants owner Andy Marshall purchased the nearly dilapidated building to revive the ca. 1876 property. GRAYS on Main owners Michael and Joni Cole have spent the past 15 months renovating the interior space with nods to the building’s rich legacy. The Coles say that the July 28 event will be both a celebration of the Gray’s Drug story and a ceremony to kick off the GRAYS on Main operations.
“Gray’s is sentimental for so many people, and we hope to honor those memories through the grand opening,” Cole said. “Through the construction process, we worked to incorporate all of the stories and memories back into the building, and we’re excited to open the doors for others to experience it.”
In addition to reviving the sign that will illuminate Downtown Franklin’s nightscape, the GRAYS grand opening will host a first look at its much-anticipated menu. The culinary team, spearheaded by Chef Kenneth Jenkins, says that the offerings place a modern emphasis on Southern culinary traditions through clean, complex profiles that represent roots from the Appalachian mountains to the low-country Carolinas. The menu will be fresh, local and ingredient-driven, with offerings changing seasonally.
In addition, the GRAYS team has placed high emphasis on its bar program, which will applaud vintage epicurean spirits that complement the kitchen’s seasonal pairings. Influenced by “The Golden Age of the American Cocktail,” beverage director Jon Yeager says he followed the marks of the brandy culture of the late 19th century. Grand opening attendees will also have an opportunity to purchase GRAYS’ cocktail creations.
“We are beyond excited to see this past year’s work come to fruition,” Cole said. “The core of our mission, throughout the construction process and extending through our service, is to celebrate the building’s heritage and the middle Tennessee tradition through our spirits, flavors and sounds. We are thrilled to serve a community that invests so much attention to preserving a culture.”
In addition to the restaurant and bar, GRAYS also has plans to host weekly entertainment in its second-floor music hall. Its third-story space is reserved for SOCIETY at GRAYS on Main, a members-only supper club.
For updates about its progress and more information on the restaurant, visit Gray’s Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/graysfranklin.
Who: GRAYS on Main
What: Grand opening celebration
When: Sunday, July 28; 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Where: Historic Downtown Franklin’s Main Street
About GRAYS on Main
Set in a ca. 1876, three-story building in Historic Downtown Franklin, GRAYS has long been an established landmark on one of the country’s most celebrated Main Streets.
Eclectic, yet traditional, GRAYS menu reflects the best of the South in food, and focuses on locally sourced ingredients. The second floor bar and music hall features handcrafted cocktails that celebrate the brandy culture of the late 19th century, along with live performances from the best Music City has to offer. The third story holds a casual yet elegant space for our supper club members.
At the core of GRAYS mission lies a desire to honor the heritage of Tennessee’s culture, through its spirits, flavors and sounds. For more information, go to www.graysonmain.com.