Meet Miss Linda, the “Pie Lady,” and so much more

Jim Myers

To call Linda Melton the glue that’s held the Elliston Place Soda Shop together for the last 27 years would be a gross understatement. Simply put, without Miss Linda, the Soda Shop would not be here today.

The first thing you need to know is Miss Linda is country as cornbread. She grew up in the Mount Carmel community in Decatur County, Tennessee, exploring the hills and hollows along the Tennessee River. She learned her way around a stove hanging out in the kitchen of her grandmother, Zummer Mae Elizabeth Rushing. When you learn to cook from someone named Zummer Mae, you know it’s going to be good. Lucky us, she brought that deft touch and those time-honored recipes to Nashville.

After helping open a handful of Po’ Folks restaurants, Miss Linda arrived on the threshold of the Soda Shop in 1992. She was taken under the wing of Miss Jean, who had pretty much been there forever. “She was the toughest,” remembers Miss Linda. “She could be ornery and find ways to aggravate you, but once you got to know her, she had dry sense of humor and a heart of gold.”

If you press Miss Linda, she’ll admit moving from the old Soda Shop to it’s new location next door was hard at first. “When we closed the door that last day, I stood on the sidewalk and cried, and cried all the way home. But as I watched the new place come together, piece by piece, I got more and more excited,” she says grinning. 

She brings her memories, like those of all the children she’s served and watched grow up, from little boys having to kneel on the stools to reach the counter to bringing their own kids in for a first milkshake, a Nashville rite of passage.

And when the doors do open in January, Miss Linda will have the shelves laden with pies she baked that morning. She’ll have the soda fountain shined up and ready. And she’ll be there to greet all those hundreds of regulars that she’s been missing. 

And the Soda Shop will feel like the Soda Shop again.

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