John "Chappy" Chapman watched his mother cook for their family while growing up in Alabama and New Orleans. Her techniques inspired him to open Chappy's Seafood Restaurant in 1984 and serve family-style creole cuisine. When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005, it destroyed his restaurant and his home. Chapman hauled the spirit of creole cuisine to Nashville, opening Chappy's on Church. At the new establishment, red beans and rice, jambalaya with andouille sausage, and crayfish étouffée sizzle with as much spice as ever.
"In New Orleans, we live to eat," says Chapman. Inside the restaurant, he's cultivated an Old World atmosphere ideal for dining slowly and relishing every bite. A refinished wooden bar brings its hand-carved reliefs all the way from Belgium, leaving a bar-shaped hole in Belgium's heart. Century-old stained-glass panels and matching lamps were salvaged from a cathedral in Indiana. Bright paintings adorn every wall but one, where Chapman has hung a photograph of the original Chappy's Seafood Restaurant, surrounded by oak trees in the sunlight.