“Mercy Mondays” at the Boat House

If you’ve ever been to the Boat House, then you know it’s pretty hard to miss the thousands of dollar bills pinned to the ceiling. Restaurant guests come from all over to share a meal with us, and to add their personal stamp to our decor by writing across ‘ole George Washington’s face! We love looking at them, and imagining the stories behind each.

But this year, we’re trying something a little different….

At the end of 2015, every dollar that’s pinned to our ceiling will be donated to Mercy Community Healthcare, a local organization whose mission is to reflect the love and compassion of Jesus Christ by providing excellent healthcare to all and support to their families. Every dollar donated will be stamped, and at year’s end… we’ll start counting!

Plus, we’ll be matching each and every dollar (up to $2,500 that is) pinned to the ceiling on “Mercy Monday”––which we’ve dubbed the third Monday of every month! And to sweeten the deal? Those who donate $3 on Mercy Monday will receive dessert for just $1.

“A dolla’ makes us holla!” has a whole new meaning now, y’all. Help us give back to the folks in our community!

To learn more about Mercy and its ministry, go to www.mercycommunityhealthcare.org. To learn more about Puckett’s Boat House, go to www.puckettsboathouse.com.

Mercy Dollars

Tom Zazzetti, new general manager for Puckett's Franklin

Meet Tom (& Get Inside Scoop on Chicago!)

The Puckett’s family is grinning from ear to ear about our newest member–we’re proud to announce the new general manager at Puckett’s Franklin is…. (drum roll please)…. Tom Zazzetti!!

Tom hails from Chicago–and similar to our Director of Operations Claire Marshall Crowell, he grew up in the business, helping his dad run their family-owned restaurant at a young age. Tom has more than three decades of managerial experience, and we know he’ll fit like a glove in our Historic Downtown Franklin community.

To help you get to know him better, we enlisted a short Q&A from him. Read on to learn his insider’s tips to the dining scene in the Windy City, and more!

Pssstt: if you’re wondering, longtime Franklin GM Max Stephenson is running our Puckett’s Chattanooga location. More on that here!

Q: Tom, where did you move to Williamson County from? What did you do there?   
I moved from Chicago, Illinois! I was born and raised in Joliet, IL, and have been in the restaurant business all my life, working for family-owned businesses like Puckett’s.
Q: How long have you worked in the industry? 
I’ve spent 31 years in management. I started helping my Dad when I was real young in his restaurant.
Q: What’s your favorite part about working in a restaurant?
Customer satisfaction is my number one with me; I love interacting with them too.
Q: What was your first impression of downtown Franklin and the community?
How friendly, outgoing and caring the people are.
Q: What do you like best about the Puckett’s family?
Everyone treats each other like family. There is a certain bond here.
Q: What’s your favorite dish at Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant?
I can’t choose just one! But if I had to narrow it down to two, I’d say the Redneck Burrito and Country Fried Steak.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to make in your own kitchen?
I enjoy spending time with my own father making my Grandma Nonis’ homemade Spaghetti sauce. I’d share the recipe, but it’s too long!
Q: Tell us your three favorite restaurants in Chicago:
  1. Gino’s East (Chicago Deep Dish Pizza)
  2. Merichka’s (in Crest Hill, Illinois’ home of the world-famous poorboy sandwich!)
  3. Gibsons (THE Steakhouse in Chicago)
Q: Franklin loves Chicago (and Chicago loves downtown Franklin)! Can you give us an insider’s tip?
There’s nothing more amazing than walking The Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago in the summer–or during the holidays with all the lights.
Q: What’s one thing people don’t know about you?
I used to run a restaurant and sports bar in Joliet, IL, for former Chicago Bear players–and Superbowl Champions!–Tom Thayer and Mike Tomczak.
To learn more about Tom, read the Chattanoogan story here.
The Magnificent Mile in Chicago, IL

The Magnificent Mile in Chicago, IL

What’s Your Sauce Say? [VIDEO]

Did you know that our own Andy Marshall and crew came up with Puckett’s famous BBQ sauces? We took our time getting these just right, and we think they turned out pretty darn good!

We believe that your barbecue tells us a little somethin’ about you… take a listen to Chattanooga GM Max Stephenson explain our in-house concoctions:


Not too thick, not too spicy, with a good balance of smoke and flavor to complement pulled pork, ribs and chicken cooked slow and low for hours. This is Memphis-style BBQ sauce, sweet with no heat. It goes well with any of our dishes, from mac n’ cheese to sweet potato fries. For a little more kick, try our Spicy version!
Not too thin, not too sweet, with a good balance of smoke and flavor to complement pulled pork, ribs and chicken cooked slow and low for hours. Our Spicy BBQ sauce is a little bolder than the Original, more Kansas City than Memphis. It’s not what you’d call hot, but if you like things with some kick, then this is it!

Big News: Max Is Movin’!

We’ve got some big, exciting news y’all — and we just couldn’t wait to share!

We’re taking our long-time general manager Max Stephenson to lead the new Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant location in Chattanooga… and as you can tell from this picture, he’s just about jumpin’ for joy to start a new adventure in the Scenic City!

Max has been with the restaurant for many years, and worked from the back of the kitchen to the front of the house and everywhere in between. He oversaw six successful years of double-digit growth at Puckett’s in downtown Franklin–and, well, you could say we view him as family here.

Max Stephenson, Puckett's Chattanooga

Max Stephenson just got a new home in Chattanooga!

We’re going to throw up a #TBT in honor of Max: below is one of our favorite articles, written about our dear old friend. Learn more about Chattanooga’s new general manager–and if you visit, your new friend–below:


This story was published in the Williamson Herald and on DowntownFranklinTN.com in 2013.

Since 1998, Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant has made its name on live local music, southern comfort staples, and the friendly faces that welcome guests to the family-owned eatery and music venue. Max Stephenson is one of those faces.

Six years ago, Stephenson started out as a cook; today he is one of the most recognized personalities in downtown Franklin. As general manager of the Puckett’s Franklin location on Fourth Ave., South, he is often one of the first voices to greet the swarms of visitors who flock to America’s Favorite Main Street.

“The first time I heard about Puckett’s was when I interviewed for the position,” Stephenson said. “I left the interview thinking I did not get the job. I still believe he hired me just because he knew I needed the job, and not because I impressed him— but that is just the kind of man Andy Marshall is.”

Max became a part of the Puckett’s family in 2007 when he came on board to help in the kitchen. Splitting his time between Leiper’s Fork and Franklin—and taking on any role needed—he quickly demonstrated some invaluable assets: his breadth of industry knowledge and a dedicated work ethic.

Since those days, Stephenson has seen the Puckett’s family of restaurants grow from a grocery store out in the country to include Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant locations in three different counties, Puckett’s Boat House in downtown Franklin, and Puckett’s Trolley, the mobile eatery.

He says the core values remain the same among the various ventures, including a community-centered environment and home-cooked dishes that he can take pride in.

“Back then, it was just the three of us: Andy, Claire [Marshall Crowell, director of operations] and myself,” Stephenson said. “I can say without hesitation, this is the best company I have every worked for. It is rare to see an owner get physically involved, but with the Marshall family everyone dives in. They make you a part of the family, and it is so rewarding to work with them.”

Stephenson says that outside of the ingenious culinary skills and the amazing talent he’s witnessed at Puckett’s (on-stage names include Faith Hill, Jonathan Kane, Steve Cropper, Amy Grant, and more), what he enjoys most about his job are the people he works with and those friends he’s met along the way.

“Once I had a lady ask me if any famous people ever came to Puckett’s,” he said. “I pointed to the lady sitting behind her and said does Sheryl Crow count?”

“The people are what make Puckett’s so special,” Stephenson said. “There is a genuineness at Puckett’s that you can’t get anywhere else. I get to come to work as a restaurant manager wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt, and there is just something so egalitarian about that.”

Stephenson has taken on the role of coaching and guiding the employees around him, driving home the importance of things like uncommon service and consistency. His 30-plus years of industry experience qualifies him for that role, but he’s also been the innovator behind some of Puckett’s signature menu items like Bubba’s Benedict and the Country Club.

“I love the culinary aspect of my job,” he said. “I like coming up with different combinations, and giving them a Puckett’s twist.”

A couple of months ago, Stephenson was offered the general manager position at the newest Puckett’s location, on the square in downtown Columbia. Since he lives in Mount Pleasant, and makes the 45-minute commute every day, it seemed like a natural transition. But it didn’t turn out that way.

“Even though I live closer to Columbia, Franklin has become my home,” Stephenson said. “I am constantly grateful for Franklin, and amazed at how a group of people have helped lead and shape this community into something truly special.”
Stephenson asked to remain the manager in Franklin, but agreed to be the interim manger for the new location. He currently splits his time between the two.

A Memphis native, Max moved with his family to Middle Tennessee when he was a senior in high school. After two years at Columbia State, he moved back to Memphis to finish college and got a job waiting tables. Stephenson quickly worked his way from server to head server, then assistant manager to general manager.

“I have been in the restaurant industry ever since,” he said. “I love the fast pace of this business, and that it requires quick decision-making skills.”

After he moved to Orlando to open and manage a fine-dining steak house, Stephenson says he started to miss the South and wanted to be closer to his parents. He moved back to Middle Tennessee in 2004 and opened his own restaurant in Columbia.

“I opened right when the economy starting falling, and had to close nine months after opening,” Stephenson said. “Ironically enough, the very day I closed my restaurant I saw an article in the paper about Puckett’s.”

Stephenson says that fateful day has shaped the course of his life, and his career. And he couldn’t imagine loving his job any more than his does.

This is part of a series on merchants in downtown Franklin, Tenn. To read more, visit www.downtownfranklintn.com/facesoffranklin.

Puckett’s Boat House Introduces Uncorked, A Monthly Wine Pairing Event

Puckett's Boat House Uncorked

Beginning this month, we’re kicking off Boat House Uncorked—a monthly wine-tasting series at Puckett’s Boat House that will focus on informative topics, food pairings and all things relating to sipping and swirling!

Our first Uncorked event, is happening Tuesday, February 24, 2015 in the Boat House Wine Bar from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. We chose the theme “Winter Whites,” so the evening will focus on white wines to ry in the colder months + inspired food pairings!

Each month, Uncorked participants will enjoy five pours of the featured wines; an in-depth description and background of each pour; and suggested food accompaniments. You’ll also take notes throughout the night, ask questions, and mix and mingle with other guests.

In addition to the five pours and hors d’oeuvres, Uncorked will allow guests to peruse rare blends from the world’s most notable wine regions under the direction of Puckett’s Beverage Director​, Ben Rodriguez.

We’re most excited to interact with guests and to create a fun, educational experience, while giving you access to the wines through our event presenting sponsor, Moon Wine and Spirits.

 The Puckett’s Wine Bar Uncorked events will take place on the last Tuesday of every month. Tickets are $20 per a person, and the price includes five pours and an appetizer bar.

Call the Boat House and make your reservation today: (615) 790-2309