In the weeks since Cristy Powell opened up the new Eat Well Market in East Nashville, business has, to an extent, taken over her life — three weeks post-lease signing, she had the place open and serving, a community garden and deck in the works, a food truck acquired. Fitting, really, since Powell’s life experiences informed the thrust of the business.
“I was a single mom a couple of years ago,” says Powell, between blending a special-ordered apple soda and ferreting out some heavy cream inside the Riverside Dr. Market, “and there were a couple of nights that all my son and I had to eat were sweet potatoes that a farmer friend of ours had given us. I worked really hard — I was employed, and just couldn’t afford all the bills and food too. So that’s really close to my heart. Every day we have something that’s two bucks or three bucks that you can take home, and we have lots of cost-effective things like red beans and rice, dirty rice, things like that that you can feed a few people for a few bucks.”
Helping customers eat affordably is a focus; Powell’s overriding Market philosophy, as the name indicates, centers on helping them eat well, too.
Inside the Market — which opened in February at 1000 Riverside Dr., in the cozy hut that formerly housed Dee’s barbecue — she and her team cook up from-scratch dishes, focusing on local and organic ingredients and healthful preparation. Powell continues to make use, too, of her background in well foods, providing custom menus for customers with specialized diets (raw, diabetes-restricted, hyper/hypothyroid, among others).
Her culinary point of view, too, was informed by her Louisiana upbringing.
“I grew up in a Cajun deli,” she says. “When I was in second grade, I would get off the bus there and an old woman named Florida would take me to the kitchen and put my bookbag away and teach me how to make muffalettas and gumbos, dirty rice and po-boys.”
You’ll see that influence in some regular menu items, like Eat Well’s fresh and decidedly non-greasy shrimp po-boys and gluten-free beignets. But the Market’s menu, in general, will evolve and revolve, switching out based on available ingredients on a weekly (“or so”) basis. (Check the Eat Well Market Facebook page and Eat Well Market Google Group for menu updates.)
“We want to be a place that people know they can go and get their favorite thing,” says Powell. “But we’re also gonna have extra things, every single day.”