Meat-and-three revived after historic Nashville flood mourns loss of matriarch

Local News

May 1 marks nine years since a devastating, 100-year flood swept through Nashville. 

The historic flood unfolded over three days — from May 1-3, 2010. 

Cars floated down the interstate; some lost everything, and many had to start over. 

Dairy King, a well-known meat-and-three, was one of the businesses flooded beyond repair, but they pulled through, re-opening in a new location off of East Thompson Lane.

It was a day the owners, longtime employees, and repeat customers will never forget.

Today, nine years since the Nashville Flood, pictures hang on the walls marking the day that they thought would close the restaurant forever.

As Jeff Jones opened the doors to his quaint southern restaurant Wednesday morning, a whirlwind of emotions set in.

Nine years ago, the original Mill Creek location filled with six feet of water. Without even making a phone call, the community showed up to lend a hand.

“Customers, friends — we had 50-60 people down there trying to evacuate that place,” Jones recalled.  “We filled up two 17-foot U-Haul trucks with gear and food and we got a lot out.”

He worried they wouldn’t be able to re-open, but in six months afterward, they had a new spot and a line of customers at lunchtime.

“Didn’t have a clue, but I put it in the hands of my Lord, Jesus Christ,” Jones said, tearing up. “It happened. That’s all I can say is, it happened…fast.”

Like they never skipped a beat, Jones’ parents Dudley “Big Daddy” Jones and Thelma were back in the restaurant, greeting customers, in what felt like their home.

“People loved to talk to my dad, too,” Jones said. “He was quite the character and, of course, my mom was ever-supportive.”

Nearly four years ago, Dudley passed away, and over the weekend, the “Queen” of the Dairy King did as well, leaving a hole in the hearts of many longtime customers.

“Mrs. Thelma, she was a very sweet lady,” Metro Officer Todd Watson, who is a regular at the restaurant, told News 2. “She always had a big smile on her face. Always had kind words for you. She is going to be missed.”

Rocky Walton has been eating at the meat-and-three for nearly 30 years.

“It’s kind of somber, but at the same time it’s a celebration ’cause Mr. Jones and Mrs. Jones are together again, and they left all of this for us,” Watson said.

Until she got sick about a month ago, you could find Thelma — also known as MawMaw — at the restaurant making everyone feel special. She would often even fire up the griddle and fry the best cornbread you’ve ever had.

Today, the recipes at Dairy King are all Thelma’s or her mothers.

“She will never leave us, she will be here in spirit always,” Jeff said.

Flowers, her apron and photos decorated a table at the restaurant in her honor on Wednesday. 

The Jones’ have overcome a lot of obstacles, but continue to remain a strong staple in the community.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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