Johnny Cash’s house burned down a dozen years ago, but his old mansion is the inspiration for a new downtown Nashville venue, Johnny Cash’s Kitchen & Saloon.
Located on Third Avenue South next door to the Johnny Cash Museum, the restaurant and performance space pays homage to the personal tastes and heritage of Cash and June Carter. Log-cabin appointments and a sitting room with a large fireplace feel very much like the home the couple occupied from the late 1960s until their deaths in 2003.
A meat-and-three food service, catered by Music City’s 65-year-old Swett’s restaurant, offers authentic Southern cooking, a favorite of Cash’s. Steps to the second floor feature the lyrics from “I Walk the Line.” Even the bathrooms are appropriate for the legacy; the sink, walls, hand driers and toilet are all slate-colored — it could be nicknamed “The Can in Black.”
Numerous members of the Cash clan attended the opening on July 31. Cash’s son, John Carter Cash, and his wife, Ana Cristina Cash, sang “Jackson” on the facility’s stage, while Carlene Carter — the daughter of June Carter and her first husband, Country Music Hall of Famer Carl Smith — covered “Ring of Fire.” Johnny’s siblings Tommy Cash and Joanne Cash Yates joined in on the Carter Family classic “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”
“They were sweet as can be to each other,” said Carlene of Johnny and June’s legacy. “People love a good love story. They love a story where people come out ahead when they’re drowning and they come up for air. And I think the whole romantic idea that Mom helped save Johnny’s road, I do think she had a lot to do with it.”
Combined with the museum, which opened in 2013, the restaurant/venue brings the amount of space devoted to the artist to 60,000 square feet in the heart of Nashville’s tourist district, just blocks from the Ryman Auditorium, where Cash and Carter first met at the Grand Ole Opry.
Icon Entertainment founder Bill Miller recently discovered that when Cash made a guest appearance in the video to Martin Delray’s 1991 cover of “Get Rhythm,” the action took place in front of what is now Cash’s Kitchen & Saloon.
“Dad was up and down these streets his whole life,” recalled Carter Cash. “I feel him in these walls, I feel him in the heart of Nashville, and it’s great to see how the legacy has endured.”