On the surface, The Cookery looks much like any other Nashville café. A new high-rise building is taking shape just down the street, and the sounds of a jackhammer can be heard through the main dining room windows. There’s quiet music playing, and a few people work diligently on laptops around the room. It’s late afternoon and with the exception of occasional laughter, the kitchen is fairly calm.
But a closer look reveals that one of the men behind a laptop is studying for food safety certification. Pause for a moment to converse with one of the warm and friendly staff members, and his weathered face tells you that he’s been through hell and back.