How long have you been together and has food always been a shared passion?
Brian Riggenbach: (laughing) We’ve been together…13 years. Food has always been really important.
Mikey Corona: That’s how we ended up becoming a couple, after Brian prepared a multi-course meal for me. It was the first time that anybody had ever done that for me and that’s kind of what made us fall in love. As far as the business aspect, it morphed into that about 10½ years ago.
BR: The Mockingbird is the state bird of Tennessee and mockingbirds mimic their surroundings. We are interpreting Southern classics and giving them a global spin and flare.
MC: I’m from Texas, Brian is from Florida, and we live in Tennessee, and it just so happens that the mockingbird is the state bird of all three of those states.
You’ve been open since August 2017. What has changed since you first opened your doors?
BR: It’s not as easy as it looks.
MC: It’s definitely been a learning curve, but I also realized I need to not take things so personally since this restaurant is such a reflection of Brian and myself and our heart and soul is in each dish.
You’re a same-sex couple opening a restaurant in the Bible Belt. What’s that been like?
BR: Nashville is a deep, deep sea of blue in a pool of red. I thought there was going to be a lot more pushback, but it’s a very progressive, urban city.
MC: The governor of Tennessee, who is Republican, has dined at our restaurant knowing that we’re a married couple and it didn’t affect him, so they’re a lot more progressives than you would think. But I can also tell you that there was a great viewing party here when the LifeWay building [producer of Christian literature] was being imploded. We have a great view from the balcony of our restaurant and some of our regulars encouraged us to do a viewing party, and so we had some Champagne and some bagels and lox and watched the LifeWay building being imploded. It was kind of a relief not to have such judging neighbors.