The country music capital of the world.
The Grand Ole Opry.
That's right, Chappy. John Chapman. The guy who made the phrase "Chappy time" famous.
Katrina destroyed his south Mississippi restaurant and his Hancock County home. So, he packed up and moved north. And in just three years, he's become part of the fabric of Nashville.
I ran into Chappy by accident. I was in Nashville, heading home from dinner, when I drove past a restaurant with his name on the front door. One phone call later, we realized we stumbled upon an old friend.
Chappy runs a restaurant near the city's West End called "Chappy's on Church Street." From what I can remember, it looks very little like the restaurant he operated in Long Beach. I believe the dining room down here had wood floors. It definitely had a fish tank.
His Nashville restaurant is carpeted. And the decor up there seems to be a bit more upscale. However, the Nashville business is definitely a tribute to Chappy's Mississippi and Louisiana roots.
One wall is decorated with a framed Mardi Gras costume. Another wall has articles and pictures from Chappy's time in Long Beach. And by the front door, there's a mannequin adorned in Mardi Gras garb.
Chappy's wife, Starr, and my wife, Liz, had their picture taken by the mannequin. They were southern royalty in the country music capital.
Remember, I said "Chappy's on Church Street" is a tribute to his southern roots. His menu is proof of that. Trout Long Beach, Shrimp Louie, Chicken Ship Island, maMama's shrimp and eggplant. They're all on the menu.
If you miss Chappy's alligator butter, then take a trip to Nashville, because he still serves it with a loaf of bread. If you crave red velvet cake, you can order it again at the Tennessee version of Chappy's.
Because it was Valentines Day, Chappy was stuck in the kitchen. He came out just long enough to say hi. He looked the same -- a smile on his face, a smattering of gray in his beard, and a white chef's hat on his head. But, at least on that night, his flamboyant personality seemed to be gone.
I guess I'll blame it on the crowd. However, I did hear his wife mumble that the restaurant could use a few more days like this. Apparently, business isn't great. As a matter of fact, according to a news report I saw in Nashville, tourism in country music's capital is down about seven percent. And restaurants are starting to close.
I sure hope Chappy can make it up there.
My family often visited Chappy's in Long Beach. So, it was nice to hear my wife order Trout Long Beach again.