The Turnip Truck has been a Nashville favorite since 2001 when John Dyke opened the first store in East Nashville.
Last Wednesday, the grocer — which sources from over 80 local vendors — announced its fourth location in Midtown, set to open in 2023.
Dyke — raised on a farm in Greene County, Tennessee — has expansive growth plans for the next chapter of Turnip Truck that go beyond his new Vanderbilt neighborhood location.
“I have a map and it has about eight different spots … I know where I want to go, I know the areas,” Dyke said in an interview. “A couple of the spots that I am look at right now would be Madison, Franklin, Mt. Juliet and there are about three or four others.”
When planning a new location, Dyke gets demographic reports on areas he is eying. He will then look for opportunity in a specific piece of property.
“Our vision is to be Nashville’s most local, trusted grocer. To me, Nashville is Metropolitan Nashville, I don’t look at the core,” Dyke said. “Our next venture, and we are looking at it in several different angles right now, we need to create a central commissary-type kitchen.”
The commissary would allow Turnip Truck to have consistency in both recipes and food service across its different locations.
If a large enough piece of real estate is found, Dyke would like to create a store, commissary and warehouse at the same location.
“I could have better buying purchases, better patrol over food, better consistency and be able to look at how we provide these services and build a culture where people that want to grow with the Turnip Truck, we can take care of them,” Dyke said.
The new Midtown location, creating around 100 to 125 jobs, will become a much-needed service in the area, both as a place for professionals and students to grab a quick meal and shop. The Turnip Truck’s space between Lyle and 20th avenues has around 80 parking spots for customers.
“That area, there’s really not many grocery stores and the one grocery store on the other side of Vanderbilt is getting ready to shut down,” Dyke said.
Located in 23,500 square feet of Vanderbilt University’s new graduate and professional student housing, the store will have increased food service offerings in addition to traditional Turnip Truck inventory.
There will be an expanded coffee and juice bar, fresh pizzas, acai bowls, fresh sushi and a build-your-own-burger bar.
A large part of the Turnip Truck’s success is its commitment to high quality produce and its business model of being a reflection of customer feedback, Dyke said.
“We have not waivered off why I set off to do what I did 21 years ago, and it’s always been about this passion of produce. It’s been about local produce, but mainly around organic produce,” Dyke said. “I think sometimes we forget what food is about. … We forget as individuals to slow down and enjoy food.”
Dyke referenced the fresh strawberries he just got in, picking one up, feeling its texture, looking at its color, before just biting in.
Beyond produce, Dyke has 60 grass-fed black angus steer raised in a manner that regenerates the soil and has honey-bee hives at the East Nashville store.
Today, most people that frequent Turnip Truck don’t know it by any other name. But when Dyke opened the store, it was called The Good Earth Market.
Later the name was changed after Dyke said the old Southern expression, “I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.”
“My favorite part is watching people come in and want to change their lifestyle and eat a healthier way, and watch them keep showing up,” he said.
Though Dyke was determined to get away from his farming background, graduating from The University of Tennessee, he eventually came back to the values it instilled in him: hard work and dedication.
Nashville’s Local Grocer Bound for 20th Ave and Lyle in 2023
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (April 20, 2022) — Turnip Truck, Nashville’s locally owned grocery chain, will open its fourth and largest location in mid-2023 in Vanderbilt’s new graduate and professional student housing development.
“We’re thrilled to bring fresh, healthy food to the heart of Nashville on a grander scale than ever before,” said Turnip Truck founder and CEO John Dyke. “Our customers will find the local, natural and organic goods they enjoy at our other locations, in our largest store footprint.”
Situated in the heart of Midtown Nashville between Lyle and 20th Avenues, the new 616-bed mixed-use building is a joint venture between Balfour Beatty Campus Solutions and Axium Infrastructure. Turnip Truck’s 23,500-square-foot store will occupy the South Tower’s ground level. With 80 store-dedicated complimentary parking spots, Turnip Truck will be easily accessible to both car and foot traffic.
Larger than Turnip Truck’s 18,000-square-foot flagship East Nashville location, the new store will offer a full-service grocery store, deli, juice bar, salad bar, hot bar, and grab-and-go meal options. Turnip Truck will offer 50 percent more food service at the new location than it does at its East Nashville, Gulch and Charlotte Avenue locations.
“We built Turnip Truck to enhance the health of our community, and we are eager to serve such a dynamic pocket of Nashville,” Dyke said. “Whether customers make the trip to this store from their homes above it, on their commutes, or from nearby neighborhoods, we want them to enjoy the welcoming, nourishing experience people expect from Turnip Truck.”
Key collaborators on the project include general contractor Crain Construction, UNFI Store Services (design) and DC Engineering.
Grocery shopping is not what it used to be, and that’s a problem for us all. The long-gone days of a city filled with fully stocked-and-staffed supermarkets now seem like a pre-COVID dream.
Unfortunately, the challenges are not straightforward. They require commitment by grocers, day in and day out. For my team at Turnip Truck’s three in-town grocery stores, that has looked like taking care of and retaining our team, doubling our warehouse inventory to keep shelves full, relying on local farmers and suppliers, and trusting our diversified vendor base to deliver the products we need when we need them.
These nimble moves would not be possible were we not an independently owned, local business. However, I believe mission-minded businesses of all shapes and sizes can do right by their customers if that is a core value.
As Nashville’s local grocer, I am on a mission to keep the shelves full and the service friendly for my neighbors. While there’s no magic formula to take us back to the days before shipping delays, I do have a question for savvy shoppers.
Can you trust your grocer?
Before COVID shutdowns, sanitizing sprees, quarantines and supply shortages, it was easy to take for granted that grocers would have the items shoppers needed without fail. Fast forward through the pandemic and its accompanying calamities, and it’s a whole new world. Americans have had a wake-up call to the grocer’s central role in the food-supply chain.
When it comes to shopping for food, everyone has non-negotiables. At Turnip Truck, that means offering top-notch service and healthy products our customers can trust. Every person shares a need for fresh, clean food to fuel their life. No matter your budget, zip code or grocery list, you deserve consistent access to quality food.
Now is the time for customers to consider their sources and build relationships with brands they can trust. The last two years have taught us many hard lessons and reminded us that norms can change. We can all do our part in making sure those norms change for the better, not a lowering of standards.
Never in our lifetimes have trustworthy relationships mattered more. If your retailer is letting you down, I encourage you to shop around. While every business in our sector is facing challenges, you deserve to shop with those who operate with customers’ well-being in mind.
John Dyke is the founder and CEO of Nashville’s only full service, locally owned natural foods grocer, the Turnip Truck.
If this is your year to solidify a healthy and effective supplement routine, you’re in the right place. After all, Jasmin Rosil is The Turnip Truck‘s resident go-to for all things supplement-related. The health and beauty buyer for all of Nashville’s Turnip Truck locations, a locally owned natural grocery store, Jasmin has been working for the company for 13 years. She certainly knows her vitamins, minerals, and herbs! We asked Jasmin to weigh in on our burning questions about everything from probiotics to supplements that combat daily stress and anxiety.
How healthy choices can boost your immune system| Opinion
As a local organic grocer for nearly two decades, I am grateful that science continues to support the idea that consuming a healthy diet will improve immunity.
John Dyke, Guest Columnist
Along with crisp temperatures and blue skies, the fall in Middle Tennessee brings the unwelcome elements of increased colds and viruses.
As a local organic grocer for nearly two decades, I am grateful that science continues to support what farmers and others living close to nature have known all along: Consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables will improve immunity — while consuming highly processed foods can harm your health.
When I started the Turnip Truck in East Nashville about 20 years ago, I set out to bring the farm-fresh foods I grew up enjoying to my city neighbors.
After crossing paths with them at farmers markets and health stores across Nashville, I knew there was demand for natural fare in the heart of the city.
Healthy food helps boost your immune system
New research proves the generational wisdom I’ve followed on this path: Food truly fuels immunity. Along with eliminating toxic stress, staying physically active and drinking plenty of clean water, medical research has zeroed in on a healthy microbiome as a critical factor in overall immunity.
Commonly referred to as “gut health,” the microbiome plays a key role in fighting off illnesses and diseases. Fortunately, in Nashville we have access to plentiful seasonal sources of gut-healthy prebiotics and probiotics.
While probiotic foods contain live beneficial bacteria, prebiotics feed and maintain those bacteria. Together they uphold the complex center of microorganisms responsible for helping the body stay well.
Many are familiar with probiotic foods, including yogurt with live cultures, and fermented foods including kefir, sauerkraut and kombucha tea. Add prebiotics in the form of fresh fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains to support the probiotics’ work. Readily available root vegetables such as onions and garlic are excellent prebiotic choices.
How to keep your body strong this winter
Whether you’re just starting out on your road to an immune-boosting diet or you have mastered the art of eating for health, there are practical steps you can take this winter to keep your body strong. I recommend starting with seasonal fare.
In Middle Tennessee, savor autumnal choices, from butternut squash and pumpkins to satisfy root vegetables.
Not only are in-season items fresher and tastier, they are also less likely to be processed, upping their nutritional value.
It’s old advice, but it certainly rings true for immunity: Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. The freshest items – including produce and all perishables – are around the outer ring of the floorplan, with more processed items (boxed, canned or bagged) lining the center aisles.
Fill most of your cart with perishable items, especially vegetables and fruits. Supplement, but only as needed. We believe a clean supplement can be highly beneficial — particularly during cold-and-flu season.
However, by eating a rainbow of fresh fruits and vegetables you can eliminate the necessity of supplements, making them truly supplementary and not essential.
By thinking of food as preventive medicine, we can eat our way toward a healthier and more delicious winter.
John Dyke is the founder and CEO of Nashville’s only full service, locally owned natural foods grocer, the Turnip Truck.