Arnold’s Country Kitchen Owners Share Reason For Closure After 40 Years

It’s the disappointing end of an era for Nashville, with Arnold’s Country Kitchen, the city’s most-beloved meat-and-three, closing for good on Saturday, January 7. The restaurant, which has been open for 40 years, is not only a favorite for locals, but a popular destination for tourists as well.

After overcoming numerous challenges, including a massive surge in Nashville’s tourism, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, Rose Arnold says she’s ready for a break.

“I’m tired,” Rose, who owns Arnold’s Country Kitchen with her son, Kahil Arnold, tells the Nashville Scene. “My back hurts like hell! I want to retire, and I’ve got a lot of people to take care of, including my husband.”

Rose’s husband, Jack Arnold, founded Arnold’s Country Kitchen, after purchasing the restaurant from Lynn Chandler, who also opened Nashville’s Elliston Soda Shop.

“This was never my dream,” Rose says. “I just got lucky.”

Arnold’s Country Kitchen could have come to an end a decade ago, when their building was listed for sale. Although it seemed impossible, Rose and Kahlil decided to buy their building, so Arnold’s could stay in business.

“It was just Rose and me,” Kahlil recalls. “We didn’t go to Jack about it since he wasn’t really involved anymore. When I asked him about buying the building one time, he said that there was no way we could afford it with what the restaurant was bringing in, but when I looked at the numbers I thought, ‘Well, actually I think we can!’ Outside developers had big plans for the property, but nobody wanted to be the one to tell Rose that they had bought it out from under her.”

In 2012, Rose and Kahlil purchased the property, plus two adjacent lots, for $750,000 — a daunting amount of money at the time.

“We knew that a restaurant was the worst possible use for that property, and it took a year to find someone to lend us the money,” Rose concedes. “Then we ended up spending more than the purchase price on the remodel, but after we appeared on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, the money rained in. Guy Fieri set us off!”

Rose and Kahlil had big plans for more expansion with Arnold’s, including adding more seating and Arnold’s After Dark dinner service, when COVID-19 put a swift end to those plans.

“We had just spent five years putting the place together when COVID hit,” Rose recounts. “We had planned a big new grand opening right before we got shut down. Since we reopened, it’s just been one thing after another: supply chain, food costs, utilities. I thought everything was going to double.”

Although their sales didn’t double, something else did: their property taxes, going from $11,000 to $78,000, with another assessment scheduled for next year.

“The thing that kept pushing me was knowing the property tax increases were coming,” Rose admits. “That’s the straw that broke my back. We couldn’t afford to close when we remodeled, because we needed the money to keep coming in since we didn’t borrow against the equity. The 2024 reassessment will just be unaffordable for us, and I wanted the chance for us to exit on our terms.”

While the owners are sad to close the chapter on Arnold’s, they are grateful for the time they had with each of their customers over the last 40 years.

“We’ve been the luckiest people on earth. I feel like I have angels that look over us. It’s been an amazing ride — just wonderful,” Rose says. “It’s never been easy, working from 6:00 in the morning until the last person left, but people appreciate it. I hear it every day. We have met some of the most amazing, genuinely kind people through this business, from suppliers to country music stars to politicians, really all of our customers. It gives you a sense that humanity is good. People have been so good to us through the years, but I’m ready to retire. It’s been 40 years.”

Arnold’s is located at 605 8th Avenue South. More information can be found at