Nashville International Airport
One Terminal Drive, Ste 317, Nashville, Tennessee 37214
Delaware North-operated concepts at the Nashville airport include Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge (with up to 5 live music performances on two stages daily); Whitt’s Barbecue (a local tradition); O’Charley’s (a casual dining restaurant headquartered in Nashville); La Hacienda (a locally owned Mexican restaurant); and Swett’s – a southern-food favorite in Nashville for more than a half century. Delaware North partnered with Transfare Inc., for the 2011 grand opening of popular national brands Freshens and Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen.
What’s a trip through Nashville without some stick-to-your-ribs barbecue? Travelers can sample the “Best of Nashville” barbecue right at the Nashville International Airport. Whitt’s Barbecue has been serving up slow cooked barbecue since 1978, bringing home the “Best of Nashville” award in the Nashville Scene readers’ poll several times since the contest started in 1988.
What makes Whitt’s so special? For starters, their barbecue is cooked for twenty-four hours with hickory smoke, and it’s all done by hand.
Bill Dean bought into the popular Whitt’s franchise in Athens, Alabama in 1978 and knew it would thrive in Nashville, too. In 1985, with several stores operating, Dean opened a commissary to cook and prepare the meat for all their locations, ensuring quality and consistency of the product. Three generations of the Dean family have worked hard to offer delicious barbecue to Nashvillians, and now travelers from around the world can enjoy it at the Nashville International Airport.
There are twenty-five Whitt’s locations in the Nashville area, so it was a natural choice for Delaware North to bring to the airport for folks wanting a taste of the south during their travels.
With barbecued pork, diners can try the savory flavors that locals have loved for years. There are delicious sides such as baked beans, macaroni and cheese, and cole slaw, plus desserts to round out the meal. All the selections are available in convenient to-go packaging. Whitt’s also offers a breakfast menu. Located at Gate C-4.
Travelers at the Nashville International Airport with a hankering for savory soul food can find it at Swett’s Restaurant in Concourse C. With a sixty-year tradition of serving up some of the best meat-and-three meals in the city, Swett’s was a natural choice to add some local flavor to the airport.
But the Swett’s story of success didn’t begin with a restaurant. In 1938, Walter and Susie Swett, with only second grade educations, defied the odds and the limitations of the time to open a gas station, becoming African-American business owners. Having ten children at home to feed must have been good inspiration. Eventually, the couple also purchased a tavern in 1952, while operating a grocery store.
The couple then opened the original Swett’s dinnette location in North Nashville in 1954. It became a destination for traditional southern-style cooking. In 1988, sons David and Morris built Swett’s restaurant at the same site.
Today, the restaurant continues to thrive under David Swett’s leadership. When he discovered old sauce and rub recipes tucked away in the attic, David was inspired to get serious about Swett’s barbecue selections. That led to the addition of some tasty hickory-smoked meals to the menu.
Whether it’s baked chicken or meatloaf, turnip greens or sweet potato casserole, there are many delicious options to choose from at the Nashville airport location. A satisfying breakfast menu is also available, along with a pie or cake of the day for dessert. Travelers will savor the taste of down home cooking long after their meal is over. There’s good reason why thousands call Swett’s their “home-away-from-home.”
Through the years, Tootsies “World Famous” Orchid Lounge has hosted some of country’s biggest artists such as Kid Rock and Keith Urban and launched the careers of many up-and-comers at its Nashville club. Tootsie’s has been called Nashville’s Best Country Bar and Best Local Tradition. Most recently, it was voted the “#1 Honky Tonk in the World,” another reason why it made so much sense to bring the Music City mainstay into the Nashville International Airport.
Departing travelers can enjoy live music, drinks and food in the terminal C spot. A smaller location offers entertainment for folks waiting for arrivals in the pre-security location. Delaware North wanted a true Music City USA experience for travelers passing through Nashville’s airport, and knew partnering with Toosties would be a hit.
Tootsie Bess bought the original location in 1960, when it was called Mom’s. The place was renamed after a painter chose the color orchid for the new paint job. It quickly became a gathering place for musicians and songwriters. Famous early customers were Kris Kristofferson, Tom T. Hall, Mel Tillis, Waylon Jennings and Patsy Cline. It’s said that Willie Nelson got his first songwriting job after singing at Tootsies.
That same distinctive orchid color is also used at both airport locations. Young artists looking for their big break still line up to play for travelers looking to relax and enjoy the tunes. Tootsies at the airport offers an extensive menu of appetizers, sandwiches and breakfast items. Colorful and tasty specialty drinks are also a favorite at the full-service bar.
Just like the flagship Tootsies, the airport’s music venue includes a Wall of Fame with photos and memorabilia from the stars who have played at the downtown location. It’s definitely a must-do while at the airport, who knows when a future music star will be discovered there? Located at Gate C-7