The History of the City Cafe


City Cafe was opened on February 10, 1900 by Henry & Dorsey Cantrell.

It was originally located at 11 south side public square.

Ben Shahn shot this pic of two men inside the City Cafe, located in 1935 on the South Side of the Square. Not the reflection of the Courthouse.

Did you know?

It is the oldest restaurant in Tennessee that is still in operation and, is known all over

Rutherford County as the best place to hear all the gossip.

When the City Cafe was first opened in 1900 it was promoted as “Rutherford County’s Pride…City (calf) A”

The Cantrell’s bottled the milk from their Salem Pike dairy in the upstairs area above the café.  After they moved the bottling from the upstairs area it became a gambling and drinking venue.

Now, don’t go getting any ideas in your head…. we don’t condone that in our upstairs area now!

It was 1936 when the Cafe hired its first waitresses. Sisters, Audie & Sara Overall and Peggy Brown.

The Cantrell’s sold the Cafe to the Manley Brothers. and, in 1947 CL Hall purchased it from the brothers.

He then traded it on April 16, 1948 to Lester Mason.

In 1950 CL Hall took the Cafe back over with Sewell Manley as a partner

In 1954 Maurice & Pauline McKnight opened Café at 107 E. Main

In 1958, Ernest & Ethel Watson took over and ran the Cafe for 23 years.

In 1981 Frank & Helen Cooper took over the Cafe and they ran it for 5 years.

In 1986 Garry & Pat Simpson purchased the Cafe.

In 1992, the Simpson’s moved the cafe to its current location at

113 E. Main St.

They bought the 2 buildings side by side, 113 & 115.

This move almost doubled the capacity of the restaurant.

In 2007, the Simpson’s sold the Cafe to Scott Perkins and in 2012, Scotts parents,

Rusty & Cindy Perkins took over the operations.

On October 1, 2014, Rusty & Cindy sold the business to

Tammy Greer & Teresa Kellogg, who were best friends from High School.

On March 1, 2018, Tammy sold the business to Teresa & her husband Rollin Kellogg

who, plan to keep it in their family for years to come.

So, there you have it! The condensed version, about the history of City Cafe.

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