Why Andy Marshall gives back
Words by Mary Kate McGowan
Photos by Danielle Atkins and A. Marshall Hospitality
Seventy years ago, Puckett’s Country Market opened in Leipers Fork, Tennessee—just 10 miles southwest of Franklin. The country market served the at-the-time small, rural community for years, and in 1998, Andy Marshall purchased the market and began serving his family recipes and growing his roots in the community.
Andy was the owner-operator of a handful of Piggly Wiggly stores but wanted to explore his passion for cooking. So, he sold the grocery stores, and one thing led to another. Under his leadership, Puckett's Restaurant has become a legendary Southern food and live music venue that has expanded to multiple locations and anchors Andy's restaurant group, A. Marshall Hospitality. What started with Puckett’s has grown into a restaurant group of five brands and 12 restaurants across Tennessee and Alabama.
Amid the growth, Andy's priority is keeping the community at the heart of the family-owned-and-operated businesses. "I'm a people pleaser at heart, and I just love to interact with people. I love the instant gratification you get from a restaurant hospitality business," he said.
With deep roots in Franklin, Andy is an admired and involved community leader, having led and served on numerous nonprofit boards and in many organizations, including the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce, the Tennessee Hospitality and Tourism Association (now Hospitality Tennessee), the Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County, and the Downtown Franklin Association. In addition, he volunteers as a culinary advisor for the Franklin High School Culinary Arts Program and supports the Tennessee 4-H, from which he annually purchases a whole cow to support scholarship efforts.
But one organization is at the heart of Andy’s philanthropic efforts: the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BCGA). Andy said the BCGA was essential to his grounding early in his life and to keeping him out of trouble as a teen growing up in Memphis.
"I lived with my mother and stepfather in a very unstable environment. They were both alcoholics. My brother had left the house at 15, and my sister was a runaway at 13. I think my stepfather was pushing us all out one at a time, and at age 13, he challenged my mother that either I left or he left.. So, she asked if I could find someplace to go.”
Before that ultimatum, police officers had picked up Andy on the streets of Memphis and had introduced him to the BCGA as a better place to spend his time after school.
After the negative feedback at home, Andy walked into the BCGA. "They're loving on you. They're telling you that if you do your homework, you can make good grades. You're getting a lot of positive reinforcement," he said. "It literally changed my life.”
The support he received from the BCGA set him on the path of wanting a better life, and at the age of 13, he moved to Franklin to live with his father. Andy said he kept on this more hopeful path, “dead set on being the perfect child, so I wouldn't be asked to leave again.”
"Franklin is really where my roots feel like they were most grounded," he said. "My foundation goes back to the BCGA."
Years later, Andy rediscovered the BCGA in Middle Tennessee and started pouring himself into volunteer work. "They make such an impact on young people that I couldn't help but get involved and try to make a difference," he said.
Andy is now a board member of the BCGA of South Central Tennessee and of Middle Tennessee. He's won several awards, recognizing his growth from a club member to a business leader.
Years after finding a community of support and love with the BCGA, Andy has built a restaurant group of micro communities where he welcomes and takes care of people.
"I tell my associates all the time that it's not enough for us just to unlock the doors and let people walk in. We've got to be essential to the communities we operate in. If we're not essential, I'm really not all that into this business. I want to make an impact on the communities that we serve. I want to make a difference. So, that's our challenge," he said.
With this human-centric focus, Andy’s hospitality group’s brands—Puckett’s Restaurant, Scout’s Pub, Deacon’s New South, Americana Taphouse, and Burger Dandy—have become essential in cities across Tennessee and Alabama.
Keeping the community central to the hospitality group's growth is also how Andy views expansion. "I'd rather invest in individuals than brick and mortar. I can find buildings, no problem. I've got a file full of opportunities out there for restaurants. But what we really focus on is the development of our people," he said.
For Andy, it always comes back to the people.
To learn more about how you can donate or volunteer at the BCGA, find your local Club at https://www.bgca.org/.