By MATT BLOIS
Simply put, Homestead Manor closed because there weren’t enough customers.
While the restaurant had plenty of regulars, and parent company A. Marshall Hospitality was excited about the property’s potential, it became too hard to attract customers.
“We loved what we were doing out there, and we had some really devoted regulars, but at the end of the day you have to make a business decision,” A. Marshall Hospitality COO Clair Crowell said.
Crowell addressed the closure of Homestead Manor following a presentation about company culture at a Williamson Inc. event on Friday morning.
She said staff and customers maintained a positive and festive attitude through the final weekend. The final day ended with a bonfire bidding farewell to the restaurant.
Part of the problem was the difficulty of attracting customers in a location with little foot traffic, but Crowell said it was also difficult for a hospitality company to manage all the events on the property.
“We were doing it, but our main bread and butter is restaurants and catering,” she said. “It’s just not really what we do.”
She said a property like Homestead Manor needs lots of attention to be successful, and with 12 restaurants it didn’t make sense for A. Marshall Hospitality to continue operating it.
“We loved everything we did with the design. We loved that it was part of the Land Trust … I think that the team was great,” she said. “(It would have been more successful) if it had been Andy (Marshall’s) project either before he started everything or after he was kind of done. It feels like an owner-operator sort of property.”
Many staff members will be moving to other A. Marshall Hospitality restaurants. Homestead’s chef will go to Puckett’s Boathouse in Franklin and the general manager will go to Scout’s Pub in Westhaven. The farmers at Homestead will continue through the summer, providing produce for other A. Marshall restaurants.
The company is planning to expand. The Nashville airport expansion includes a new Puckett’s location. Crowell also said the company hopes to open up a restaurant in Pigeon Forge and expand its ice cream store, Hattie Jane’s Creamery.
“We’re mostly focused on what’s next for Puckett’s, whether it’s a full service or a scaled down version,” Crowell said. “But we want to continue to grow in those mid-size markets. That’s our sweet spot.”