I began what I consider my career in 2007. I was working in the (then) Metropolitan building at a local web design firm. Rock City Times, Rock City Eats and my love of food in general were barely a twinkle in my eye. Lunch dining options in downtown were scarce, while that has changed a little we still have a long way to go.
One day a good friend suggested we visit a place a friend owned. We left the tower, crossed 6th street, and journeyed down an alley onto 7th street to a small cafe in a forgettable building. The place was cramped and featured various artwork hung on every available inch of wall space with small hand written price tags.
This was the start of a 7 year relationship with the place known as Starving Artist cafe.
Starving Artist quickly became a favorite lunch spot during my years working downtown. Chef and Owner Jason Morell cooked up daily grilled panini’s along with an always exceptional fish or pasta special.
A year or so later my career took me across the river and I was excited to hear that Starving Artist was making the trip as well. They eventually settled into a space in Argenta roughly triple the old location’s size.
By the time they opened I was back downtown again, having frequent lunch meetings at Starving Artist. I loved to share the location with everyone possible.
A year later I became friends with a guy (Will Choate) that invited me to checkout a church he recently started called Argenta United Methodist. At the time the church was just starting out and met on nights out of Starving Artist, which was kind enough to open their doors and even make coffee for us. For the next year and a half we developed a number of memories surrounded by paintings (mostly of nude women oddly enough) of local artists in the cafe. Even though we moved the church just two doors down it was still bitter sweet leaving the cafe.
This Sunday, ironically at the same church, Will informed me that Starving Artist unexpectedly decided to close after a nine year run.
Starving Artist Cafe will always hold a special place for me. Food was always spot on and owners were always friendly. Mostly it is the memories made surrounded by the paintings of local artists trying to grow their career while I grew my own. As with every loss I wish I could have had a chance to visit one last time. One last panini with roasted potatoes. One last farewell to the naked lady painting that looked over us on Sundays. One final salute to Chef Morell whose restaurant meant more than I ever was able to say.