I’ve heard stories about Dolly’s influence on the design of Song & Hearth: A Southern Eatery (located inside the resort), but I wanted to find out for myself. And, tell you, of course.
I spoke with Brian Angello, Dollywood’s Director of Hospitality Marketing, about Song & Hearth’s design.
What is Dolly’s Recipe for Life?
Brian informed me that during a design meeting for this restaurant, Dolly was asked if she could give a recipe for life. Without skipping a beat, she said, “Half a cup of Love, a teaspoon of Caring and a dash of Humility topped with Compassion.” That perfect recipe hangs in the restaurant for all to see.
New Life Brought to Reclaimed Wood and Jars
When you enter Song & Hearth, be sure to look at the ceiling. Locally-sourced reclaimed wood adorns the ceiling and adds atmosphere with impact.
Make sure you look at the jars that are displayed on the shelves in the lounge area. Like a pixel, each jar has a small picture inside that makes one beautiful image of a local farm reminiscent of Dolly’s Tennessee Mountain Home.
The Hearth is the Heart
Brian said, “It’s important to remember that the way Dolly grew up, financially, the hearth played a huge role for her family. It not only provided sustenance where they cooked their meals, but it also provided them warmth.”
Music has always been an important part of Dolly’s life. When her mother was cooking by the hearth, she would almost always be singing, and as Brian said, “It added a connection between food and family to Dolly.” The pictures of musical instruments that hang in the outside circle hearken back to instruments that are a favorite of Dolly’s.
Everyone Is Equal
After walking around Song & Hearth and taking in all the specific details and love that went into the design, I couldn’t help but notice the circular layout. Brian pointed out that the design of the restaurant includes a lot of circular aspects so that there is no “head” of the table. Everyone is equal.
Are Those Hanging Pots Real?
The pots that hang from the center of the ceiling are real pots, but not exactly the pots you’d use to cook. They were made specifically for the restaurant. However, Brian explains that pots like these “were passed down through families and often grandparents would pass down the larger pots as the family grew.” The pots were integral to families not just because they were passed down, but because that’s where everything was made that not only fed the body, but fed the soul.
Dolly’s Stone Soup
The pots are quite important to Dolly because of Stone Soup. Brian told me that Stone Soup is on the menu as a tribute to Dolly’s mom. She always knew if one of her kids needed a little extra love. She would have the children go out and get stones and whichever child needed it the most, his or her stone would go into the soup. This was a little way of telling the child that they are important, loved and that they are important to the family.
Have you noticed the quilts around the center room? Each of them represents a different season, and as Brian said, “It’s just another part of Smoky Mountain living. We are blessed to experience every season.”
Every detail, no matter how small it may seem, has a special place from Dolly’s heart. The food served is food Dolly loves (hello, fried chicken!); the hearth is a reminder of Dolly’s first exposure to music; and the circular design of the restaurant is a reminder to love others as equals. That circular design reminds me of Dolly’s song, Circle of Love.
What is your favorite design element in Song & Hearth?