NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - It all started with a chili cart inside a downtown Nashville saloon on Fourth Avenue.

On Wednesday, Varallo’s Restaurant celebrated its 112th birthday, and it’s the oldest restaurant in Tennessee.

It’s a classic piece of old Nashville, where the chili is new and made every day since 1907.

Today at Varallo’s, it was all about the birthday cake, well deserved at a Nashville landmark that would prefer talking about its chili, served three ways - chili, tamale and spaghetti – for 11 decades.

The same recipe passed down through generations, a great-grandfather, a grandfather and his wife, and now grandson Todd Varallo runs the register.

In a Nashville world of 21st Century change, Varallo’s still sees 1900 in its rearview mirror. So does long-time regular Adair Kaiser.

“I’m sure I came here as a baby because this was a favorite, Varallo’s,” said Kasier.

The restaurant has moved through Nashville through the years, now in The Arcade at 239 Fourth Ave. N.

The thick chili is comfort food for most, and it works.

“If I’m sad, I come here and get some chili. It makes me happy and I’m kind of like a veggie person,” said Kaiser.

If you’re new to town, put down your cell phone and stare at the walls. History is here, and if in the last 112 you’ve never been.

“I’d appreciate them coming and trying us out,” said Varallo. “Without them, we can’t do this.”

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Feature Reporter

Terry Bulger has been bringing you stories of the people and places that make Tennessee unique and interesting on News4 since 1990. Contact Terry if you have an interesting community story for him to cover.

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