“What sets us apart is our history,” Teresa said. “If these walls could talk, they’d have a lot to say.”
City Cafe has been serving country comfort food classics, such as biscuits and gravy, chicken-fried steak and country ham in the Murfreesboro area since 1900 when it was first opened by city residents Henry and Dorsey Cantrell. Through the years, the restaurant had moved around downtown Murfreesboro to different addresses before settling in 1992 on its current location at 113 E. Main St.
Teresa bought the restaurant in 2014 along with Tammy Greer, a friend and former co-worker, when they decided they would like to own a restaurant together, Teresa said. In 2018 Greer sold her share, and Teresa’s husband, Rollin, became a co-owner of the cafe, according to Teresa.
Preserving the country cooking style associated with City Cafe remains important, the Kelloggs said. Popular dishes include pancakes, patty melts, and the meat-and-three plate, Teresa said.
“I love to cook,” Teresa said. “I grew up staying with my grandmother, and she’s the one who taught me how to cook most of the things that I do now.”
The restaurant’s long heritage in the city and loyal customer base made a crucial difference during the COVID-19 epidemic, Teresa said.
New COVID-19 social distancing and quarantine procedures in 2020 and 2021 almost closed the restaurant permanently, Teresa said. Similar pressures applied to other small businesses, she said.
“We just got further and further behind to the point where we couldn’t keep going,” Teresa said.
When the announcement was made in fall 2021 the restaurant would be closing permanently, longtime customers patronized City Cafe and donated to a GoFundMe page, Teresa said.
“I think if [City Cafe] were to close, it’d change Murfreesboro,” Teresa said.
Even with community support, the Kelloggs said that they have not fully recovered from their COVID-19 pandemic setbacks.
In order to trim food and employee payroll costs, the cafe’s hours have been reduced to 7 a.m.-2 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday. The eventual goal is to reopen for dinner.
Teresa hopes to continue the legacy and rich history of City Cafe for many years to come, she said.
“It’s important for me to carry on this history,” Teresa said. “I’d like for my family to be here for the next 120 years.”
113 E. Main St., Murfreesboro
Hours: Tue.-Sat. 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Closed. Sun-Mon.
This story was written by Murfreesboro reporter Alana Thomas.