|Awedaddys offers new dining option|
|Friday, May 18, 2012|
The Gallatin Marina is the location of the city’s newest restaurant, Awedaddys, which opened for business last Thursday giving the city an option to dine in site of Old Hickory Lake.
Co-owners Vern and Debra Benke have a long history in both boating and restaurants. The couple have competed in deep sea fishing tournaments off the Gulf Coast and, for the past 12 years, owned and operated Anchor High Grill on Old Hickory Lake in Hendersonville, which they closed in January.
“We are excited to be in Gallatin, everyone has been wonderful here,” Debra said just a couple of hours after the restaurant opened.
Vern expressed his excitement and noted help offered by local officials in opening the business. “The City Hall folks have been very helpful to us and easy to work with,” Benke said. “The community in Gallatin has accepted us amazingly well. We’ve met so many people here and they have all been super.”
Benke, a native of Nebraska, grew up in northeast Ohio, took a job with a music company that led him to Florida where he hung his hat for about 30 years. A transfer brought him to Nashville and ultimately, Hendersonville.
“The company was sold and I decided to do something different so I went into the restaurant business,” Benke said. He became involved in Grandstands in 1992 and opened the Anchor High Grill at Hendersonville’s Anchor High Marina around 2000. Benke sold Grandstands in 2005. Along the way he operated The Shack on Gallatin Road for about a year and also opened and operated The Crossroads Restaurant in Portland for a couple of years.
Despite their background in operating restaurants, every new start up comes with new challenges and this one was no different. “We thought we had all the kinks worked out until the first ticket rolled in. I was like ‘how did we forget that’ and ‘how did we forget this.’” Benke said shaking his head. “This isn’t our first rodeo so I didn’t expect that.”
The name, Awedaddys, is in memory of the Benke’s friend Robert “Tumpy” Anderson, who died a few years ago. “He was the mayor and social director of Anchor High, a good friend and an extremely generous man,” Benke explained. “He had a float built behind his boat where he would entertain guests and he named it Awedaddys. He named it after a phrase his children would use to ask for things, like ‘awe daddy can I go to the movies?’ so we chose to hang on to that name.”
Live entertainment will be provided by local bands on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
The couple has completely renovated the old restaurant site at the marina to create Awedaddys with a more upscale dining area indoors and a casual dining area outside with a patio and bar area as well as a courtyard area. Vern describes the menu as Casual American food with plenty of sandwiches, seafood, steaks, salads and a few pasta dishes, all moderately priced.
Awedaddys will open 3 p.m. through dinner service Tuesday-Thursday, at 11 a.m. on Friday and 9 a.m.-1:00 p.m. for a brunch on Saturday and Sunday, then converting to the regular menu service through dinner. The restaurant will be closed on Monday.
By Randy Cline