About SPNA

The Sylvan Park Neighborhood Association (SPNA) is the collective community voice for addressing neighborhood issues such as zoning, security, beautification, traffic, metropolitan services, and environment.

SPNA members meet on the second Monday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Senior Renaissance Center of Cohn Adult Learning Center at 4805 Park Avenue.

About Sylvan Park

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sweet Potato Bun, New Burgers on Tap for Revamped M.L. Rose Menu

Angry Dragon Burger
When Austin Ray bought the old Lavender Motors lot at 4408 Charlotte Avenue, more than a few people tried to convince him to tear it down and start from scratch.

“Everyone who I worked with on the real-estate side who does real estate more than I do said it’s going to be so much easier and you’re going to be so much better off knocking the building down,” said Ray.

But Ray couldn't bring himself to get rid of the building which, since the 1920s, had been everything from a service station to a repair shop to a used car lot. Instead, Ray took a gamble and spent considerably more time to rehab the building, even keeping the original sign hanging outside and incorporating old hub cabs and mufflers into the d├ęcor. Ray admits he took a risk on the building and the location.

“I was just as nervous coming out here as I was nervous going into Melrose before anyone was there,” said Ray, sitting outside the M.L. Rose patio along Charlotte Ave.

But the gamble paid off. Ray estimates about 5,000 people eat and drink at M.L. Rose on Charlotte every week, pulling in revenue that's on par with the original location on 8th Avenue. And in November, M.L. Rose will celebrate a year on Charlotte (and five years as a company), a year that Ray says has been punctuated by strong community support and strong sales. And the year is being capped off with a new menu.

"We didn’t want to get away from being a very approachable, very every-day neighborhood-pub type of feel, but it was time to get a little more creative and up the ante with some ingredients and combinations a little bit,” explained Ray. “Personally, I think that’s what we did. We’re excited.”

Pig Roast Sandwich
Ray's vision for the updated M.L. Rose menu is keeping in trend with Nashville's burgeoning reputation as a foodie city, but also maintains the feel of a comfortable restaurant with accessible food.

“We considered everything from the mix of items, the product mix, in terms of what was selling well and what wasn’t from the original menu, to how long it takes to make it, and obviously cost of ingredients is always a consideration,” added Ray. “We really wanted something relevant to the growing food scene in Nashville and something exciting that really felt like this is something you can only get here.”

Many of the new additions on the menu include local or regional ingredients, like eggs from Willow Farms, cheddar from Kenny's Farmhouse Cheese in Kentucky and the sweet potato bun. The new bun is a concoction imagined by Ray and his team of chefs and baked right here in Nashville by Charpier's Bakery. (Ray says the bun is already a big favorite, and it's only been on the menu for a few weeks. I tried it. It's amazing. Slightly sweet, but not too sweet.)

There are six new burgers on the menu, plus you can now order sweet-potato waffle fries (also amazing) and M.L. Rose's version of an adult milkshake, called the left-handed milk stout float (it's a vanilla ice-cream and stout float).

M.L. Rose is a strong anchor for redevelopment along Charlotte. During the H.G. Hill presentation a few weeks ago at Park Elementary School, Jimmy Granbery mentioned M.L. Rose several times as an example of Charlotte Avenue revitalization.

“I was prepared to wait 5 to 10 years for that to happen, but the bigger projects that are being talked about, a lot of them are underway already. So it’s very validating,” added Ray, who attended the meeting.

Ray also owns the abandoned gas station directly across from M.L. Rose (on the same side of the street), as well as part of the property on the corner of 46th and Charlotte, but says he isn't quite ready to talk about what's next.

“People say we’re the next East Nashville, the next 12th South,” said Ray, “I think it’s the next version of Charlotte. It’s always going to be a little about what it’s always been. The people who live here are going to dictate that.”

Click HERE for a look at the new menu.

M.L. Rose is located at 4408 Charlotte Ave. They're open M-F, 11 a.m. - 2 a.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. - 2 a.m.

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