papa turneys inside 1: inside shot of Papa Turney’s ordering counter. Photo courtesy of Papa Turney’s

By Logan Langlois

HERMITAGE, TN — Sitting proudly at the end of a long windy road, next to a harbor of the naturally beautiful Percy Priest Lake, sits the Black-owned and locally-beloved restaurant, Papa Turney’s Old Fashion BBQ. 

A venture founded by local entrepreneur Mike Turney, who opened the establishment as a food truck ten years ago, with the mission of cooking Bar-B-Que right by utilizing old fashion recipes and techniques. Ever since opening his first food truck, Turney has embraced the philosophy of cooking food right instead of easy and treating customers like family. When these standards are met with care, Turney fully believes that customers will always come.

Ever since Turney opened his food truck almost a decade ago, his primary concern has been feeding his community good food made with love. Though, he admits that his restaurant’s journey hasn’t been without its bumps in the road. When first trying to grow a customer base, many food trucks typically move from location to location each day, rarely staying in the same place several days in a row. 

“We didn’t move from place to place,” said Turney in a recent interview. “We found a spot that we could park in one place. To me, that was crucial in building our clientele … because people didn’t have to look for us. There’s a mystique about the food trucks, ‘we’re gonna post where we’re at today and then we’re gonna be somewhere else tomorrow.’ and to me that’s not a real good business model.” 

Turney went on to say that in his opinion this method of operating a food truck felt like chasing business rather than allowing business to come naturally by creating a great, consistent product and operating under consistent hours. 

“When we started off I did not want a restaurant,” Turney continued. “I wanted to do several food trucks and have ‘em parked at several different locations around town and use one central location as a base station. But … we stumbled into a small restaurant right behind where we originally had the food truck at.” 

Turney went on to detail the layout of the first building which held Papa Turney’s Old Fashion BBQ for four years, the building itself only being large enough to hold four tables and sixteen seats in all. The restaurant, like his food truck, was embraced by the local community, many of whom came for the live music that was hosted within the building which carried an atmosphere that Turney proudly described as an “old fashion juke joint.”

Turney continued to sell his old fashion barbecue until he raised the funds to open his restaurant’s current location which houses a spacious main seating area with rows of tables, a fully amplified live stage, and an outside porch hosting several tables overlooking a beautiful view of Percy Priest. Though Turney has continued to welcome longstanding local patrons who have come to love his restaurant, he has also reported that he’s seen a large influx of tourists. So many in fact that Turney has estimated that they contribute to about 80 percent of the restaurant’s daily business.

Turney still loves welcoming new locals however and encourages people to come out and visit his restaurant next to the water. You can follow on Facebook under Papa Turney’s BBQ Nashville Shores Marina. Papa Turney’s also caters for events and parties as well as hosting live music across various different genres every night from 6 PM until the restaurant closes. The restaurant is located at 3979 Bell Rd, Hermitage, opening at 11 AM every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.