Graeme Asch- Franklin Mercantile

The Asch family began Franklin Mercantile with little knowledge of owning a restaurant, but have grown it to become a staple in Downtown Franklin.  Now, as one of the longest family owned restaurants in the city,  Graeme has created a warm, inviting, and successful establishment that is a "must eat" for anyone who visits the area. Living Franklin was so excited to sit down, eat some great food, and hear the story behind it all.


Living Franklin: How long have you lived in Franklin?

Graeme Asch: I’ve been in Franklin for over 20 years, but have lived in Leipers Fork for quite a while now.

LF: When did Franklin Mercantile open?

GA: October 1999, so it will have been open 19 years this October. We were really young when we started, and honestly didn’t have any experience owning/starting a restaurant. We found good things that we liked and made it unique by adding a good atmosphere with southern hospitality.  We are one of the longest owning restaurant/retail owners in downtown Franklin currently, and recently won the Sizzle Award for “#1 Deli in Williamson County”.


LF: What initially brought you to Franklin?

GA: My father was involved in the music business and we all decided to open a Christian coffeehouse on 5th Avenue called Jam and Java.  We ran the Coffeehouse for about five years when we decided to start Franklin Mercantile; my wife, brother, and sister in law.  The girls ran Franklin Mercantile, while my brother and I ran the coffeehouse. We decided to move the music to the restaurant where we would host Jam and Java at night.  It was quite a bit before its time, but we are talking about bringing the music back again this fall!

LF: Was owning a restaurant something you always wanted or a dream of yours?

GA: No, it just kind of happened!  My brother had talked about wanting to open a coffeehouse. At the time, what would later be the Jam and Java space was called Café Milano. The owner saw my dad at a restaurant and thought he was Michael McDonald! They began talking and he asked my dad if he was interested in taking over the space. My brother, my wife and I started running the coffeehouse, and then decided to open Franklin Mercantile shortly thereafter. We built McCreary’s Irish pub a couple years later and opened another Mercantile in Leipers Fork where the 1892 restaurant is located now. 

LF: What is your favorite music to play in the restaurant?

GA: I let the staff play whatever they like and it depends on the time of day.  After doing Jam and Java… I’m letting someone else pick the music!


LF: For us, its hard to choose only one item, but do you have one thing on your menu that is your favorite?

GA: My current favorites are the Black Forest Ham and Colby Jack or the Tuna Melt.  I also love the signature dressings we make; fresh basil and honey mustard.  The fresh basil is good on everything.  You can add it to any sandwich, you just have to ask.  It comes on the Philly Steak already!

LF: Do you ever rotate menu items?

GA: We have quite an extensive menu that pretty much stays the same overall.  The menu looks big, but it’s actually a lot of different ingredients put together into different pieces. Each sandwich has its own signature thing. For example, Great Harvest delivers our bread fresh twice a week and that’s one of our key and expensive ingredients. 


LF: Where is your favorite place to eat in Downtown Franklin ? (besides your restaurant)

GA: There are so many good places its hard to pick just one.  What I like to do when I go to each restaurant is get “my thing.”  Meridees has good baked goods.  55 South has the Cajun fare, and at Mellow Mushroom I get the Calzone.  I like Grays and their new whiskey and burger place, O Be Joyful.  I definitely like some really nice bourbons, so I’m excited to try them out. It’s hard to pick a favorite.  All the restaurants that are here are not chains and they are all unique. I really like the variety that Franklin offers.


LF: What do you think of all of the new and exciting things happening in Franklin?

GA: It was a long time until Franklin caught up to where we were. I’ve always loved Franklin – it is a great town. Its really only been the last 5 or 6 years that it became what it is now.  The economy turned around in 2011 or so, and everything changed. Growth always takes time. 


100 4th Ave N Franklin, TN 37064

Sunday   7:00am - 3:00pm
Monday   7:00 am - 3:00 pm
Tuesday  7:00 am – 3:00 pm
Wednesday  7:00 am – 3:00 pm
Thursday  7:00 am –3:00 pm
Friday  7:00 am –3:00 pm
Saturday 7:00 am – 3:00 pm