By Anna Robertson Ham
As we welcome the promise of spring and brighter days ahead, we are ready to get out and enjoy what our community has to offer more and more. Dining in Williamson County is always an experience, as we have some of the best eateries around. One new restaurant offers a family-friendly atmosphere with a flavor packed menu, along with cocktails that take creativity up a notch.
Izzy’s Feel Good Food sits on Columbia Avenue, near downtown Franklin. This family owned establishment has a lot of history. Brad Bittermann, his wife Jo, along with their children, Izzy and Varick, moved to Franklin from Las Vegas in 2018, when he was recruited for the Director of Food and Beverage position at the Omni in downtown Nashville. “About twenty years ago, I switched careers from architecture to the food service industry,” explains Brad. “In Las Vegas, I worked as a Director and VP of Food and Beverage for several of the large strip casinos, including the MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, The Wynn, Caesars Palace, Harrah’s, Paris and Bally’s. We had wanted to leave Las Vegas in order to find a better community to raise our family and to find a better work/life balance.
“When the Omni hotel temporarily closed its doors at the end of March 2020, due to the pandemic, I was furloughed along with the rest of our team,” says Brad. “We started talking about opening our own restaurant with our two other managing partners at Izzy’s: Harland Hoel and Chef Tara Garland. Both Harland and Tara worked together with me at the Omni - Harland as the GM, and Tara as the AGM of Barlines. I have worked with Harland for ten years, dating back to our time in Las Vegas. Harland is a twenty-five-plus year restaurant veteran who moved to Franklin to take the position at the Omni. Our Chef at Izzy’s is Tara Garland, a dynamo of energy who graduated from the University of Tennessee’s culinary program in 2015 as a certified ACF Chef and joined the Omni as part of their Food and Beverage Leader in Development program in 2016. She then took the position at Barlines, and worked her way up to be the AGM, working with Harland to run the front of the house. Her passion for cooking and food led her back into the kitchen, when she agreed to open Izzy’s with us. Although this is her first official Chef position, you would never know it! She is a natural leader and teacher in the kitchen.”
Jo has also worked in restaurants for fifteen years and she and Brad met at a restaurant. The concept of Izzy’s, named after Brad and Jo’s thirteen-year-old daughter, was to fill the void of what they felt Franklin was missing: “A casual, affordable, family-friendly and family-owned restaurant with a diverse menu of made from scratch food, served by a friendly and professional staff,” Brad says. “Most of our staff had previously worked with us at the Omni as well, so we have a pretty tight-knit team. Although I had opened over twenty restaurant concepts while I was in Las Vegas, this was our first one we opened for ourselves. Harland had experience with his own restaurant, running a Sushi-burrito concept back in Las Vegas.”
Izzy’s has live music every day they are open, with local musical talent of all ages and styles. “We love families here. Our kids’ menu was written by our nine-year-old son, Varick, and we love seeing kids of all ages come to Izzy’s,” explains Brad. “We wanted to create the place where you can take your family, and the menu is diverse enough that if one child wants tacos and the other wants pasta or burgers…we still have everyone covered! We also have a large outdoor patio, as well as a full bar.”
Izzy’s menu is amazing and truly does offer so much for everyone in the family. I enjoyed several dishes recently! The appetizer Steak Tacos: Ribeye steak - the same steak as their steak entrée, marinated in soy sauce, cumin, cilantro, garlic, orange and lime - diced and seared, topped with charred pineapple Pico de Gallo, chipotle aioli, cotija cheese and cilantro, served as a trio on traditional corn tortillas. These can be an entire meal, as you get three tacos, and it is delicious. I loved the flavors of the Ribeye steak along with the tart and spicy sauce. Wonderful, new option for tacos!
One of the entrées I tried was the Lobster Fries with knuckle and claw Maine lobster sautéed in compound butter -lemon zest, fresh dill and oregano - served atop crispy French fries with a lemon and roasted garlic aioli. I love lobster and this is a go-to dish for lobster lovers. They don’t skimp you on the claw meat either – you get a big serving on the crispy fries. The aioli ties it all together perfectly.
I also tried the Seared Ahi Tuna Salad: Ahi Tuna rolled in black and white sesame seeds and lightly seared, served with avocado, sliced mango, fried edamame, crispy wonton strips and a house made cilantro ginger vinaigrette. This is a huge salad, packed with so much flavor with all of the elements. The tuna was seared to perfection and their homemade dressing had incredible flavor.
I also got to taste the Garland Pasta: Chef Tara’s family recipe! Fresh cut fettuccine, handmade daily, tossed with their signature vodka sauce - homemade marinara, pancetta, vodka, heavy cream and Parmigiano Reggiano - and served with toasted Italian bread. YUM! I will order this one again and again. This was a delicious take on a pasta dish.
For dessert, I tried the Skillet Cookie: Izzy’s Favorite! Scratch made chocolate chip cookie dough, layered with Nutella, baked until crispy and gooey, topped with a heaping scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, crumbled cookies and drizzled with a dulce de leche sauce. Let me just say, they had me at cookie….and Nutella… Order this dessert! Even if you eat it as your entrée!
I also tasted their signature cocktail: The Town Crier, named in honor of their friend and restaurant patron, the late John Mather, (also known as Franklin’s Town Crier). They serve his favorite Jameson Irish Whiskey as a traditional whiskey sour, shaken with lemon juice, simple syrup, a frothy egg white and garnished with a cherry - to represent his red coat and his “sweet and sour” personality. When you order this drink, they ring a hand bell in his honor! “Hear ye, John!”
So... Hear ye, Williamson County! Go visit Izzy’s. Take your family for this wonderful dining experience and enjoy a fabulous menu, atmosphere, live music and the friendliest staff and family.
Izzy's Feel Good Food
901 Columbia Avenue
Tuesday – Thursday from 5:30pm - 8:30pm
Friday - Saturday from 5pm - 9pm
Sunday Brunch from 11am - 2pm