NASHVILLE, TN, March 15, 2019
Sperry’s Restaurant, the venerable institution located in Belle Meade, celebrates 45 years in business this month. The family owned and operated Old-English Steakhouse opened at its current location in March of 1974, stated current owner, Al Thomas. “The restaurant actually opened in 1969 and was named The Brass Scales” says Thomas. That restaurant was owned by Al’s father Houston Thomas and two other partners. “There was a disagreement and my father sold his interest. The Brass Scales closed soon thereafter and was sold on the courthouse steps. Backed by my Grandfather, Marion Thomas, my father and his brother Marion (Dick) Thomas Jr. purchased the assets and reopened as Sperry’s”. Dick and Houston Thomas operated Sperry’s for 25 years before selling to Houston’s son, Al Thomas and his wife Trish, in 2000. “Owning Sperry’s was a goal that I set for myself many years ago” says Thomas who graduated from Denver University with a degree in Hotel Restaurant Management in 1984. “My first job was at Sperry’s when I was 14 and I have been in the restaurant business ever since”.
“My wife and I moved 17 times in our first ten years of marriage. That was tough on our first daughter, Mary Allison, and tough on our marriage” adds Thomas. Since settling back in Nashville just prior to buying Sperry’s, Al and business partner Sam Sanchez have opened one other Sperry’s location in Cool Springs and five Sam’s Sports Grill’s and two Sam’s Place restaurants located throughout middle Tennessee and north Alabama. The pair have been very successful in their restaurant endeavors. Day to day operations are currently run by Director of Operations Bob Tappan, who has an impressive track record in the business and effectively steers the company as it grows.
In addition to the original Sperry’s in Belle Meade, Al and his wife have opened the Sperry’s Mercantile, a small market located just behind Sperry’s that sells fresh fish, quality beef and various sundries five days a week. “The market has been open two years and has been very successful” says Thomas. “Our goal was to sell just about everything that we sell at the restaurant except not cooked. Guests can purchase the same quality aged beef that we serve at Sperry’s or our fresh seafood along with their favorite salad dressing, side item and dessert and take it home to cook”. By offering their menu items at the market, Al say’s they have increased product turnover and consequently overall quality. “If the fresh Halibut doesn’t sell at the market during the day, it is sold at the restaurant that night, ensuring a fresher product all around. Same goes for everything we offer” adds Thomas. “We have to work very hard to keep up with the increased production and since everything we offer is from scratch that can be difficult”. Al’s sister, Anne Clayton, also sells a line of prepared foods at the Mercantile. Ann has a long history in the business in Nashville dating back to Clayton Blackman Catering. “She has always had an impressive following for her food and everything she prepares sells out quickly. Keeping up with production is difficult with her as well due to her popularity at the Mercantile”.
New to the Sperry’s staff is Cate (Thomas) Buchanon, Al’s second daughter. Cate has started to learn the business following the footsteps of her father after recently graduating from The University of Kentucky, getting married to Jackson Buchanon and moving back to Nashville. Cate started at the Mercantile a few months ago and is taking the lead on getting the Sperry’s Seasonings, sauces and dressings placed in grocery stores and markets around Nashville. “With the help of my sister, Mary Allison, we have already gotten our Sperry’s Steak Seasoning on Amazon” says Cate. “We sell a ton of it at the market and at other locations around Nashville and Amazon does well for us too” adds Cate. Besides spear heading outside sales, Cate will be working at the restaurant to learn that aspect of the operation as well. “Succession in any family owned business is rare, and to have a third generation family member start the process of taking the helm is even rarer” says Thomas. “I am very proud of my staff at Sperry’s, many of whom have been there for over 25 years, and I am equally proud of Cate for her interest in the business. Sperry’s is truly a family business through and through and it shows in its success and its consistent quality” adds Thomas. “That’s why we have been in business for 45 years”!!
Sperry’s Restaurant Belle Meade is located at 5109 Harding Pike and is open 7 days a week at 4:00. The Mercantile is located next to Sperry’s behind Porter Paints and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM till 6:00 PM. Information regarding both Sperry’s and the Mercantile can be found at Sperrys.com. Information for both Sam’s concepts can be found at Samsplace.net and Samssportsgrill.com.