Normally when I see something that I know isn’t going to last it makes me sad. It’s a fact of life that time moves on and that things have to change, and part of the nature of change is that some things have to go. And that’s okay, especially when something that’s here temporarily brings a little happiness. That’s what I thought about a year ago when I took this picture.
The building is, or rather was, at the corner of 18th Avenue and Church Street, and was, for a while, the home of Chappy’s On Church, a Cajun restaurant owned and run by chef John “Chappy” Chapman, who came to Nashville after his New Orleans restaurant was destroyed by hurricane Katrina. Although it did fairly well for a while Chappy’s had a disastrous appearance on Kitchen Nightmares and Chapman claims Gordon Ramsay “wrecked” his business. Chapman’s complaints that Nashvillian’s didn’t “understand” Cajun food and his failure to pay taxes may have had a little something to do with that too. I did go there once, on my birthday, and while it was good it wasn’t good enough for me to want to go back, especially at the prices they were charging, and I wasn’t thrilled that Chappy seemed to spend most of the night wandering the dining room in a toque and pajama pants instead of cooking, but that’s another story.
Five years after Chappy’s closed the building was demolished but, to go back to that picture I took in December 2018, you’ll notice that there’s “Merry Christmas” written in a window and pictures of snowflake and a snowman. Those were drawn by the demolition crew as they were clearing the inside of the building. They drew the pictures purely for themselves, as a way, I think, to bring a little holiday spirit to the job they were doing. And the passing nature of what they’d done seemed especially fitting. Christmas falls at the end of the year, around the solstice, when the days that have been getting shorter start getting longer again. It’s a time of old things passing but also renewal. When snow melts it gives life to what’s underneath.
Here’s the same spot exactly one year later.
It doesn’t bother me that it’s been an empty space for so long, a blank slate still waiting to be filled. I’m just glad there was something there that made people happy, and I believe whatever comes in next will also be something that makes people happy.