Historic preservationist Aubrey Preston, known for helping save the then-quaint, Williamson County village Leiper's Fork in the 1990s, has acquired historic Puckett’s Grocery.
At almost 70 years old, Puckett’s Grocery will keep its renowned open mic known for both amateur and celebrity entertainment despite Preston’s planned improvements, which he assures will still preserve the qualities most significant to tourists and residents. Preston did, however, maintain that improvements will meet an existing need for the right leadership.
The transaction follows considerable drama among locals about the prospect of someone else buying the property and repurposing it for something different. The value of Puckett’s Grocery and other lots in Leiper’s Fork have seen appraisals consistently return higher and higher values due to preservationists like Preston buying up countless acres in town to stave off new development. Rob and Shanel Robinson bought the property in 2008 for approximately $600,000 yet have reportedly confirmed the transaction went for upwards of $2 million.
Puckett’s is now a franchise apart from the lone original that spawned it all from Leiper’s Fork. Before the Robinson’s acquired it, it was in the hands of Andy Marshall for 10 years.
Aubrey Preston already owns Green’s Grocery, which briefly became Ernie’s Smoke House before he bought it in 1995 and restored it as Green’s Grocery. It then became one of Middle Tennessee’s most popular venues for performing artists like Hal Ketchum, John Hiatt, Kim Carnes, Michael McDonald and Larry Carlton. This led to artists coordinating album release parties at Green’s Grocery.
Preston is also known to have similarly saved the historic RCA Studio A at 30 Music Square West in September 2019, buying it $5.6 million in the same month that its savior-to-be, Bravo owner Tim Reynolds, reneged on his promise to preserve Studio A so as to raze and replace it with upscale condominiums.
Preston is one of 13 donors to the Williamson Business PAC that provided roughly a sixth of the $30,924 that funded five county school board candidates in 2016. It was a committee whose political funding with ties to a then-young Williamson Inc. drew speculation about whether taxpayer money was involved before it was revealed that the money came from Preston and 12 other entities.