By Laura Hill
When Carol Michael considered the new millennium a few years back, she decided a change was in order.
She had a successful 28-year career in the cattle brokering business, raised a family and survived a divorce, but felt stuck. Her heart, she realized, was in good food, a passion she had indulged in a part-time catering business with a friend, but now wanted to pursue seriously.
“I thought, ‘If I don’t follow my dream now, I never will,’ ” she remembers.
And so the Front Porch restaurant was born, much to the delight of thousands of happy customers who flock to the downtown Dickson eatery for what its owner – who is now remarried and goes by Carol Michael Heflin – calls “Southern cuisine with a gourmet twist.”
Heflin works her magic in a Victorian cottage built just a year after the City of Dickson was incorporated in 1899. Enter the pretty white house with its dark green trim and you’re in Grandma’s house. The porch is painted with garden murals, the floor a green-and-white checkerboard. The walls of the light-filled rooms are sponged a pale yellow and adorned with colorful prints and plates. The friendly staff (“Hi, y’all – like a little lunch?”) completes the warm, homey ambiance.
The lunch crowd is eclectic – ladies, businessmen and families – a mix Heflin had in mind when she opened the restaurant in 2000.
“I wanted to do something different than a meat and three but still true to Southern roots,” she says. “I didn’t want to be known as just a tea room, and I wanted businessmen to feel comfortable here too. We want people to perceive this as a pleasant, friendly place to go. I love it when people come in, see their friends and table-hop.”
Ladies and gentlemen both come to the Front Porch for a menu that offers everything from light salads and seafood dishes to soups, hearty sandwiches and meaty hot-lunch plates, including a blue plate special – served on an actual blue plate.
The menu changes seasonally, with an emphasis on quality, from fresh vegetables to homemade desserts like the Mile-High Coconut or Chocolate pie and the pecan-laden Jackson Pie.
Location and Hours of Operation
The Front Porch, located at 108 Center Ave. in Dickson, Tennessee, is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday through Friday, and Friday evenings for dinner.