Another Nashville Neighborhood Becomes A Food Desert As Its Grocery Stores Close | Nashville Public Radio

Another Nashville Neighborhood Becomes A Food Desert As Its Grocery Stores Close

Jun 7, 2019

It’s easier to say what the James Cayce Homes doesn’t have than what it does.

There is no coffee shop. No laundromat. No corner store. No restaurant or café. It’s hard to get a pizza delivered. Sometimes the mail doesn’t make it.

There was a point when the city’s main newspaper didn’t deliver to Cayce, the city’s largest public housing complex. And recently, a city employee struggled to get a rideshare company to pick him up there.

And now, the two remaining stores that served the neighborhood, which also includes a low-income senior living complex across the street from Cayce, have closed within two months of each other.

Cayce resident Mikaya Groves was heartbroken to hear about the closing of Bill Martins, a family-owned, neighborhood staple that had been in East Nashville for 58 years.

“We actually need another grocery store that’s closer to us because they have to think about the community over here. Not a lot of people have transportation.” Groves says. “I really feel like they made a big mistake when they did that, closing it down.”

Groves says she travels all the way to North Nashville, where she grew up, to shop. Other residents now must go more than two or three miles to Kroger to get groceries.

Another Cayce resident, Lydia Brown, says closing Bill Martin’s really rattled the neighborhood, which is already scarce for resources.

“A lot of people hated that, sure did,” Brown says of the store closing. “It’s hard for people to have to go way up there on Gallatin Road just to get groceries.”

But it’s the only option, she says, adding that her son often walks the more than three miles to Kroger.  

Then, a couple weeks ago, the Family Dollar, which was right next to the Cayce Homes, also shut down. That was the final blow, says Councilman Brett Withers.

“There is just a whole community where that is the store that they can walk to for at least, you know, daily necessities. And that is a real, real loss for that community,” Withers says.  

The building’s owner, H.G. Hill Realty Company, says Family Dollar still has five years left on the lease. Family Dollar did not respond to WPLN’s requests for comment on whether it plans to break the lease or not. But it was clear that it will not be opening another store in that location.  

So residents have few options.

“They’re sort of left with gas stations,” Withers says.

Cayce is currently undergoing a massive renovation. The plans call for a grocery store, but that’s years off.

For now, Cayce residents are traveling the long distance to Kroger to shop for groceries, or to the Save-A-Lot and Aldi located nearby the Kroger.

And the nonprofit that serves the community, the Martha O’Bryan Center, has increased its weekly bus to Walmart, from once to twice a week.