Former mayor votes for meatloaf

Nashville's John Cooper reveals his perfect meat-and-three

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Going to lunch with John Cooper is like taking a course in Tennessee history that comes with a slice of pie. His knowledge is practically genetic: He was Nashville’s mayor from 2019-2023, his brother Jim was a congressman for 20 years, and his father, Prentice, was the state’s governor during World War II.

Cooper’s local roots were obvious when I joined him last month at Swett’s, a meat-and-three just north of Midtown. He not only reeled off facts about the restaurant’s 70-year history, but also touched on the founding of nearby Fisk University, the local enthusiasm for peppermint ice cream, and a legend about the city’s 1967 vote to legalize liquor by the drink. (It involved the mayor at the time heavily enforcing blue laws in the run-up to the vote, to make sure everyone was as thirsty as possible before they went to the polls.)


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