John’s Place, a small, African American-owned restaurant and bar operated  continuously by the McClellan family since 1949, has been awarded a $40,000 grant by the Backing Historic Small Historic Restaurants program. The grant was made possible by American Express  and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. 

UCDD Historic Preservation Planner Mark Dudney authored the grant application. “I am thrilled they got it,” Mark Dudney, Historic Preservation Planner and Dale Hollow RPO Coordinator, said. “John’s Place had some damage from the March 2020 tornado and then the pandemic hit six months after their re-opening. They’re one of only twenty-five American restaurants selected.”

Dudney said that the primary focus of the work will be exterior improvements on the public-facing frontage of the restaurant and property.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2011 for its contributions to race relations in Cookeville and the Upper Cumberland, the restaurant was the subject of a WCTE-PBS documentary titled Everybody’s Welcome at John’s Place.