Chuck and Candi Rota feel at home when serving the community.
After years of navigating growth and traffic challenges in midtown Nashville, the two began a search for a place to call home with the promise of making a difference by using culinary skills, a love of music and songwriting, along with activities that draw people to come together via Monday night trivia games.
“We’ve been here for two years,” Chuck said. “We’re still looking for ways to serve, celebrate, connect and affirm this community.
He said that what he loves about Trivia Night at Salt and Pepper Grill in White Bluff is that the teams work best when they have a grandparent, parent, baby boomer, college student, high school student and younger person on a team because different generations have specific areas of knowledge to share.
“It’s also an event that pulls families together,” he said of the weekly 7 p.m. event.
On Thursday nights, the restaurant offers live music that features local musicians, singers and songwriters, as well as some Nashville talent.
“There is some amazing talent here that needs to be celebrated and appreciated,” said Chuck, who operated a music venue dance club in midtown Nashville for 14 years.
“My lease was coming up and it had tripled in cost,” he said. “Nashville was growing so rapidly, with property costs skyrocketing everywhere, that it took me three to four years to look for another place.”
The couple said it is happy with the location and the community, and it is still adjusting the menu as requests and tastes demand or inspire.
“Candi is amazing at helping to put together the menu and ensuring quality and presentation, along with cooking, cleaning and serving” Chuck said. “We have a staff of eight to 10 that includes a wonderful pastry chef, Nakeeah, who used to work at the Hillwood Country Club in Nashville. Her carrot cake and new coconut cream cake are both incredible.”
Candi is working on expanding the restaurant’s menu for kids.
“We’re also bringing back kids eat free on Tuesday nights,” she said.
Chuck said that food is not his background; he worked for 20 years in the printing industry before operating a bar.
Candi had gone on Craigslist looking for spots for a restaurant and found the building of the former China Buffet in White Bluff. Salt and Pepper Grill then opened on Jan. 1, 2018. The couple’s 1870 farmhouse home is just a few minutes away from the restaurant.
“Candi was a server and bartender for 20 years in Nashville,” Chuck said. “Then she got her degree as a Licensed Practical Nurse just before coming to White Bluff. She’s helped to develop the menu, adding pot roast, lasagna and the grilled salmon, along with our kiss me-kick me barbecue pizza.”
Among the popular menu items are burgers, wings, chicken tenders, a Reuben sandwich and a club sandwich. One of the bigger surprises has been the popularity of steak nights on Friday.
“Depending on the night, different items will be the most popular,” Candi said, adding that they have house blends for barbecue sauces, from fiery to sweet.
Both said they are pleased to have experienced many successes.
“Trivia has been steady,” Chuck said. “J Edwards has been an amazing performer here, with a big voice that sounds like what would happen if Joe Cocker and Bob Seger had a baby. He’s an amazing writer and artist, as is Western Boy, a group that features a father and his two sons.”
The couple said it wants Salt and Pepper Grill to have a warm, fun feel and look.
“We built the bar here from a tree that fell during a storm on a nearby farm,” Chuck said. “We got the tree to Burgess Butler’s woodworking shop in Burns. He then got it finished and installed. There’s trim on the chalkboards that came from Colonel James House in White Bluff.”
SALT AND PEPPER GRILL
Location: 4501 E. Highway 70, White Bluff
Owners: Chuck and Candi Rota
Hours: Daily, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Contact: (615) 797-1266 or on Facebook.