Kitchen culture has always come naturally to Reuben Sliva. Since age 16, he knew he wanted to be a chef. Now more than 20 years later and in the deep end of his 30s, Reuben has a lot to show for it: years of experience as a sous chef in fine dining in Florida with James Beard recognition, experience building his own catering business, and the honor of having his own restaurant—Reuben’s Smokehouse—named fourth best barbecue in the country by TripAdvisor, an accolade magnified by stories of his superlative smokehouse on CNN and Fox News.

“It got crazy really fast after that,” Reuben recalls. “Lines wrapped around the building. I was smoking 600 pounds of meat a day, and a lot of times we were sold out even before dinner.”

With success like that, Reuben clearly could have stayed put in Florida. Extended family is to thank for the fact that he and his wife, Erin, decided to move to Franklin in the summer of 2018. Having visited our area for years, the Slivas decided that Williamson County with our excellent public schools was the right place to raise their own family, four daughters, ages 5, 8, 10 and 13. Cool Springs was also the perfect place to launch Reuben’s newest venture, Franklin Soul.

Named for the family’s life-changing decision to move here and for their deep Christian faith, Franklin Soul was meant from the get-go to offer family-friendly, affordable food—Southern eclectic at its best.

“I wanted to still do barbecue,” Reuben says, “but not be pinned as a barbecue place.”

Mission accomplished: Since its opening on Oct. 1, 2018, Franklin Soul has offered not just barbecue, but soul food and Cajun cooking as well, all made from scratch and served hot and fresh in a friendly environment. The barbecue brisket is the most popular dish, but the meatloaf is not far behind. A good number of local craft beers are on tap as well with a full bar coming soon. Stop in and check out Franklin Soul for yourself, or have Reuben and his team come to you for catering events.

9040 Carrothers Parkway, Franklin, 615.472.1456, FranklinSoul.com

Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf

Ingredients

5 pounds ground beef
5 eggs
1 cup green pepper, minced
1 cup onion, minced
1 1/2 cups Ritz cracker crumbs
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 pound bacon

Directions

Mix all ingredients except bacon. Divide and form into two loaves. Cut bacon pieces in half. Lay pieces across the loaves until covered, approximately 8 halves per loaf.

For the Sauce:

Mix equal parts of your favorite smokey barbecue sauce or Franklin Soul house sauce with the same amount of ketchup. Bake the loaves on a greased sheet pan at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes* or until the center is 165 degrees. Slice, sauce, eat. Happy loafing!

*All ovens vary slightly. Check on meatloaves every 20 minutes, starting at 20 minutes.