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Commodore Music Café in Linden Features a Nod to the Past and a Taste for the Future

Located midway between Nashville and Memphis, Linden was once a favored stop for anyone heading west of Music City. When Interstate 40 was completed in the late 1960s, business shuttered, but today, Commodore Music Café lures tourists and locals alike with local-driven fare, genuine hospitality and a side of live music.

Michael Dumont and his wife, Kathy, who previously divided their time between Rhode Island and Florida, fell in love with Linden’s rural landscape the minute they arrived. “My wife found some land – 400 acres with creeks and streams, and an old farmhouse built around an original log cabin on it,” Michael says. “We made the decision to buy it immediately.”

Next, a long-empty 1930s hotel on the square caught their eye. As a real estate developer with a passion for preservation, Michael says the original plan was to restore the hotel and hire innkeepers to manage it. More than a decade (and five buildings) later, you’ll find the couple buzzing around the properties, daily.

In the same way they lovingly restored the hotel, the Dumonts reimagined the café as a cozy, all-day eatery, punctuated with black-and-white checkerboard tiles and historic photos along the walls. The artsy, come-as-you-are vibe feels right any time of day, whether for a homestyle meat-and-three plate lunch or a special dinner celebration with friends.

“Kathy and the chef really work hard on the menu, and we try to get as many local products as we can,” Michael adds. “Whether that’s eggs, or farm cheese, or herbs and vegetables grown in our garden.”

Music has also become an integral part of the Commodore experience, as visitors from around the world find their way to Linden, captivated by the South’s rich music history. As such, a song title with Tennessee connections playfully introduces the Café’s menu sections.

Loretta Lynn’s You’re Lookinat Country gives way to traditional Southern comfort foods like fried buttermilk chicken, catfish and Nashville hot chicken. American Pie is home to hand-patted burgers in various renditions (say yes to smoky-sweet Linden sauce on any of them), and under Elvis’ iconic Can’t Help Falling in Love is where you’ll find 2 P’s Mac & Cheese: homemade macaroni and Colby Jack cheese topped with slow-cooked pork.

From appetizers, like Southern Gentleman Bites with chicken, bacon and pimento cheese, to Dixie Chicken, grilled with a savory-sweet Memphis BBQ rub, you’ll recognize distinctly Southern influences. But there are simple fish dishes that feel more akin to a European café, too.

No matter what you choose, Minnie Pearl’s Chess Pie, made with sugar, butter and local eggs, is a proper finale.

As an added treat, every Friday night musicians from near and far take the stage with country, blues, rock, and gospel performances, inviting guests to sit back with a craft beer or cocktail in hand and savor the charms this ever-evolving Tennessee town has to offer.

“On a Friday night, the ambiance of the dining room, with the food, the drinks, the lighting and all the sounds in the room; it’s just an intimate gathering that’s hard to explain,” Michael says. “People are always just blown away.”

Trisha Boyer


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