In the early 1900s, a restaurant opened in the basement of the former Marjorie M. Fitch-Wright Hotel in the city’s downtown.
It was a small restaurant that served food with a twist: it was a place to eat in a state of the art dining room, a space that could host as many as 150 people.
The space would sit next to a massive, 18-foot-tall marble dome.
The idea came from the hotel’s owner, Marjie Fitch Wright, who wanted to serve a dining experience for her guests that wasn’t as lavish as the one she had enjoyed in New York City’s Grand Hyatt Hotel.
“She wanted to be as luxurious as possible and she wanted to have as much fun as possible,” says her son, George Wright, a history professor at the University of Tennessee.
George Wright says Marjiefit Wright was the first woman to serve in the United States in the 1920s.
“Marjie wanted to make the most of what was in the space, not only the marble but the space in which it was being prepared and served,” George Wright explains.
Fitch Wright’s efforts paid off in spades.
After serving her guests a buffet of traditional Italian fare, she would leave the marble dining table to cook the meal herself.
In 1933, her husband, George M. Wright, was a successful lawyer and businessman in Nashville.
He opened a steakhouse called The Mule, which became known as one of the largest restaurants in the country.
“The Mule was an amazing success,” George M Wright says.
“We had the best restaurants in Nashville, and we were in the top 10 of the world restaurants.”
Marjorie Wright would soon marry her husband.
They lived in New Orleans, but soon returned to Nashville to run their business.
They opened Marjivettes Restaurant, which served as the restaurant that became known for its iconic “mosaics.”
The mosaic table, which was one of three in the restaurant, was decorated with pictures of local dignitaries, and was the inspiration for the dining room.
The original mosaics had no name and were simply called the “Mule.”
“The Mules table was created to entertain people in the dining rooms,” George says.
It would also serve as the venue for the famous “Old Time Dressing Table,” an event where guests would dance in front of the marble mosaico.
In 1938, the restaurant became the subject of a major renovation.
George M., who was now in his 60s, was hired to redesign the restaurant and restore it to its original glory.
The changes were a massive undertaking, and a lot of money was involved, but the restoration took about six years.
“It was a monumental undertaking and it was really a lot,” George W. Wright says of the restoration project.
“It took a long time to complete.”
George M. and Marjiah Fitch would be joined by a number of other famous women, including Florence Henderson, who served as a cook and the manager of the restaurant’s bar, and Gloria Vanderbilt, the founder of Vanderbilt University.
Vanderbilt and Marcella Vanderbilt, who was the daughter of the late Sen. Joseph Vanderbilt, were also involved.
Marjiah and George M.’s restaurant would become the location of a large dinner party, known as the Mule Ball, in the late 1940s.
Marajiah and her husband built the restaurant in a basement of their home, and it would stay that way for more than a century.
George and Marija’s restaurant, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, will remain open until 2024.
“The Marjilettes restaurant was one the most famous places in the world in the 20th century, and I think we were fortunate to be able to live in the great city of Nashville,” George G. Wright said.
“Marjiefits restaurant has a special place in our hearts.
And I think it’s a great place to be, as well.”