by JANA WILSON
For decades, The Nashville House drew daily crowds for its fried chicken, biscuits, and apple butter. Then, in 2018, the iconic Nashville, Indiana, restaurant closed following the death of owner Andy Rogers.
Now— burnished, polished, and returned to its former glory—The Nashville House is back, and its new owner isn’t really such a new owner. Andy’s youngest daughter, Andi Rogers-Bartels, and her husband, Lance Bartels, have stepped in as the third generation to run the family business.
“For me, personally, it was what started my family being in Brown County,” Rogers-Bartels says of the restaurant. “My grandfather started it; my dad kept it.”
After inheriting The Nashville House, Rogers-Bartels considered renting the space to another restaurateur, but in the end she and Bartels decided they wanted to restore it. The building’s wood was polished, the electrical wiring was updated, and new kitchen equipment was installed. The restaurant reopened in July 2020.
The Nashville House still has its popular Country Store—a section at the front of the restaurant that sells items like baked goods, maple syrup, and soap made by local artisans—but a portion of the original store has been converted into a small wine bar. The space in front of the restaurant has also been converted to feature outdoor seating, which Rogers-Bartels says has been very popular during the pandemic.
The Bartels run the restaurant with the help of manager John Peters, who has 30 years of experience in the restaurant business.
“I kept telling him that we would need to make lots of apple butter,” Rogers-Bartels says with a laugh. “He didn’t understand at first how much customers love the apple butter.”
The menu still features the traditional foods that made The Nashville House popular, but Rogers-Bartels has also added some newer items like soups, salads, and other lighter dishes.
“I’m trying to create a place that I would want to travel to and offer things for sale that I would want to buy,” she says. “If I were going to a little town, I would definitely want to go to this restaurant.”