Former Vanderbilt and NFL athlete opens ‘Coneheads’ restaurant

Sports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Life after football is not an easy transition for a lot of NFL athletes.

How do I spend my time? How do I spend my money? Who am I?

For Marcus Buggs, his answer was always simple – open a restaurant.

Buggs grew up around the food industry. His mom Carolyn Buggs has owned and operated a restaurant for 23 years called “Cal’s Country Kitchen.” So, once his career as a Vanderbilt-turned-NFL linebacker came to an end, he spent most of his days at the restaurant.

On Saturday’s when the store was closed, Buggs used the space as a test kitchen to perfect his recipes. One night while relaxing with his wife, he came up with the idea to use waffle cones to create a unique chicken and waffles combo.

“The next day, a $30 waffle iron from Amazon showed up at the house,” said Buggs. “My wife, from that conversation just bought a waffle iron and the next day we made our first prototype.”

Once he had the concept, the next step was developing it and making sure people liked it. He set up a pop-up in his mother’s restaurant for a day to test it out and once that proved successful, Coneheads was born.

“Football and working in restaurants, it’s a grind. And, you only choose to do these things long-term if you love the grind and love the work.”

It also helps that he has a close connection to Nashville and opened his restaurant in an area he grew up in.

“Being from here and having the chance to play football at Vanderbilt here in front of my family and friends was just a great experience for me. Being here in this location on Dickerson Pike, and I spent a lot of time over here as a child. In the city of transplants to be somebody who is from Nashville and to be able to open a business in a neighborhood that I spent a lot of time in and to bring jobs and a sense of community and a space together, it means the world to us.”

His love of football and food all centers around the same ideal.

“When you’re on the field or in an arena or something, as soon as you do something you get an immediate reaction from people. Whether it was good or bad, whether it was people cheering or coach yelling at you or something, I feel like in restaurants, I can get that immediate reaction like I know when somebody likes something. I keep chasing that because that’s what I’m used to.”

TASTE TEST: It’s a sweet story with a nice message, but HOW DOES IT TASTE?

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