There may have been no greater Meat & Three dining experience in Nashville, Tennessee, than Hap Townes' Restaurant, renowned for their amazing stewed raisins (please don't call it a dessert 'cause on the menu it's considered a vegetable) -- alas, now gone to Hillbilly Heaven.
For 65 years, the father & son Hap Townes team served up Southern home cooking to a long line of faithful customers, oftentimes famous country producers and singers, including the immortal Faron Young.
One long-ago day in June, I ran into Faron at the legendary little stone diner. I was taking a break from Fan Fair festivities, and there was Faron standing in line, looking lean and hungry.
Hap Townes even then only had 49 seats, and remained hard to find on a quiet back street in south Nashville.
And yet, here was Faron, the star of the great hillbilly exploitation flick, "Nashville Rebel," and whose version of Willie Nelson's "Hello Walls" still holds me in awe and haunts my brain every time I think of Faron shooting himself because he believed the country music industry had abandoned him. (...this, despite the fact that his "It's Four in the Morning" was the first video to air on CMT when it launched).
And so, I got his autograph on a Hap Townes menu.
And here you have it: a truly rare document where eternal legends meet, one country singing-star celebrity checking in with a celebrated country eatery.
Nothing lasts, but artifacts can prove that there was once such a thing as stewed raisins.