By JOHN McBRYDE
Nothing very elaborate is planned, but after half-a-year of jumping through hoops and getting everything ready, Matthew Gonzales is holding a grand opening for the newest site of his Ground restaurant at 1409 West Main St. in Franklin.
Located in what was formerly Big Shake’s Hot Chicken & Fish before it sold and moved across town to Murfreesboro Road, Ground officially opened the day after Christmas but will have its ceremonial opening Friday evening, Jan. 4.
Gonzales, who founded the original Ground in Cool Springs in September 2015, had announced last June that he was opening a second restaurant. But the ambition of its happening within a month turned into the reality of a little while longer.
“We didn’t have to open another one,” Gonzales said. “We grew to where [the original restaurant] was doing what it needed to do.
“But I live over here [near West Main Street]. There’s not a lot of dining options in this area. It’s a pocket of missed opportunity, in my mind. You have Westhaven, … and all the other subdivisions nearby. Then you have [residents of] old Franklin. There’s fast food on Columbia. I thought this would be a really good area.”
Ground, which specializes in custom-made burgers and other sandwiches, baked potatoes and salads, had already built a loyal customer base soon after the first restaurant opened more than three years ago. Gonzales had worked in the restaurant industry for more than 20 years when he and his wife, Meagan, decided to open their own place on Mayfield Drive off Carothers Parkway. It sees a heavy lunch crowd from all the businesses and offices in Cool Springs, but Gonzales said ownership had it challenges.
“It was scary,” he said. “I had all the experience in the world for running the business, front and back of the house. But I had none in ownership. That was a big learning curve. So the first six months I was really nervous.”
But word of mouth — both the old-fashioned kind and through various social media outlets — helped the business to blossom. Recognition among the “Best Burgers in Franklin” and the like didn’t hurt either.
“I think consistency is the No. 1 thing,” Gonzales said of what makes Ground stand out. “That’s a big key in cooking. … And using high-quality products across the board.
“I wouldn’t say it’s one individual thing. It’s a little bit of everything we do. What makes us unique is being consistent and not trying to overdo anything.”
Gonzales said much of why Ground is seeing growth comes from those he has put in place to help run things.
“I cannot take credit for my success without my wife, the rest of my family and, of course, all the staff and all the regulars that have helped create it,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate for the support.”
Ground’s new location is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and is closed on Sundays.