Photo by: Amanda Scott (L-R Jo Dean, Katie Dean & Stefanie Brown)
McCabe Pub was opened in 1982 by John and Josephine (Jo) Dean, and it has held a special place in the hearts of the community ever since.
Today, the Sylvan Park eatery is run by two of John and Jo’s four daughters, Katie Dean and Stefanie Brown.
The sisters recall growing up in the restaurant fondly — Stefanie was five years old and Katie was just one when it opened. They would spend days at McCabe sleeping under the booths, talking with the waitresses or playing “store” in the back office.
Dean and Brown took over the family business in 2002, after both finishing college and acquiring MBAs, and they’ve been running the day-to-day operations for nearly 15 years.
“We tried to keep them away from some aspects of the business growing up. John and I wanted to get the girls an education, and then let them decide if they wanted to get involved,” Jo says. “When we started getting older, we needed someone to take over, and it just worked out that wanted to do it.”
Katie and Stefanie say their father, who passed away five years ago, gave them the skills to be self-sufficient and succeed in the restaurant industry.
“Dad raised us to stick up for ourselves,” Stefanie says. “We’ve never felt unprepared to work in this business.”
McCabe Pub has remained virtually unchanged in 35 years — the menu, furniture, decorations and even some of the staff members remain the same. This charm and consistency is what drives people to come back to the neighborhood bar over and over again.
“People talk about how old school we are. If we do something as small as take down a picture or change something on the menu, someone always notices,” Katie says.
McCabe Pub has been a Nashville staple for so long that they now have third and fourth generation customers stop in on a regular basis. Original customers will make a point to swing by and introduce their children or grandchildren to Jo.
Brown and Dean say that this is exactly what they strive for. They want families to feel right at home, and it’s this mentality that has earned McCabe Pub the nickname “the Cheers of Nashville.”
“Restaurants have become a trendy thing. The trend now is to go to the newest restaurant,” Stephanie says. “You’re never going to win chasing trends, so our goal is to continue to do what we do well. We never want to forget where we came from.”