With this article, we begin a series of postings over the next few weeks remembering (and seeking your memories so please post them at the end of this article below) of our favorite (and maybe not so favorite) places to eat while we were at Vanderbilt from 1969-1973.
Let's start with Rotier's, an Elliston Place restaurant/bar that was a favorite of Vandy students long before we came to campus and it has stayed that way right up until today.
First full disclosure: As a Nashville native I have been eating at Rotier's since before I can remember. My father was a very good friend of Johnny Rotier, the owner, and my mother and Mrs. Rotier used to stroll baby carriages together. I spent many a weeknight and weekend with my Dad at Rotier's, he having "one more beer," while I nursed a Coke and ate a piece of chocolate fudge pie.
Hey, it's a great memory, although I will confess, remembering all the times I was one of the few, if not the only, non-smoker in the place: If second hand smoke can kill you, I should already be long dead.
What Rotier's has always been famous for are its hamburgers, particularly my favorite, the grilled cheeseburger. Some like it on wheat bread, some on French bread. I like it with mustard and pickle, others like it with lettuce and tomatoes and onions. However you enjoy it, with a Coke or a chocolate milk shake to drink, it is heaven on earth , esepcially with fries or onion rings (my wife, Betty Lee's, favorite) on the side.
On the inside or the outside, Rotier's looks about the same today as it did when we were students. John Rotier has long since passed on, but Mrs. Rotier still comes in to the restaurant and helps out from time to time. Daughter Margaret Ann works as well with the youngest son, Charlie, now running the place (John, Jr. passed on at a way too early age a few years ago from cancer).
Over the years, Mrs. Rotier has become something of a legendary figure in Vanderbilt history. That was already true 35 years ago when she was profiled in our 1973 Centennial Commodore Yearbook. Here are some things she had to say:
"The children are still basically the same except in looks and dress..but long hair doesn't bother me anymore than flattops used to..I look for what's inside. ...Rotier likes the children...he has a genuine affection for the students..he likes to talk to them, and he likes to talk to the teachers that come by...some of them come back to see us years after they've graduated."
So there's an idea, come back to Nashville for our 35th Reunion October 24-25 and make Rotier's your place for lunch on Friday or Saturday before the homecoming football game. Or here's something else a little different you can do. When I was in Rotier's last week, I saw the restaurant now serves breakfast (that's right, breakfast) on Saturday mornings. Now, that's coming back to an old, very familar place and having a very new and different experience!
Remember, please leave your thoughts and memories about Rotier's below and suggest other eating places around campus you loved or hated to go to when we were in school.