This story was updated on Monday, April 19, 2021, at 3:19 p.m. with additional information.
Charlie's BBQ & Bakery General Manager Patrick Hook on Monday said earlier in the day he had visited the store and couldn't help but stare at the table in the dining room where the late Wes Agee would often sit and hold court with customers.
"He was a talker, for sure," Hook said.
"I came down from Franklin for my interview and we sat on the porch and talked for five hours. He remembered customers' names and their kids' names and their wives' names."
Many of those same people have reached out to Hook and Agee's partner in life and the business, Elizabeth St. Claire, since Agee died suddenly at age 54 Saturday from complications following a heart attack six months ago. St. Claire said the two opened Charlie's BBQ four years ago on the east end of Main Street in the former Charlie's Quick Stop building specifically because of the space and the neighborhood.
"I'm from Manchester [Tennessee] and he is from Old Hickory [Tennessee], but my daughter Savannah [Hodge] had been at UTC for awhile," St. Claire said. "We found the building and it was perfect and we loved this little area. It's not the fancy part of Main Street. It's so diverse and that is what we wanted."
Both Hook and St. Claire said they have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of community support they have felt since Agee's death.
"I've never seen this kind of support and that goes back to Wes," Hook said. "It's the whole reason he wanted to build on Main Street. He wanted to help the school and the neighborhood and employ people from around here. My phone hasn't stopped ringing since Saturday."
Hook said Agee didn't help others for his own pats on the back.
"He did it because he cared," he said.
St. Claire said Agee had been struggling health-wise since the heart attack, but that doctors still don't know exactly what was wrong with him. They had gone to the hospital Saturday for tests and he died while awaiting those results, she said.
Visitation and services will be held at Old Hermitage Funeral Home in Old Hickory from 9-11 a.m.. St. Claire said her plan is keep the restaurant open, at least for now, "because I have employees who depend on us, well, now me."
A fund has been set up to help cover funeral expenses. Agee is survived also by his mother and two daughters, Erin and Gabby. She hopes to have some sort of memorial at the restaurant when things are safe enough to gather.
"I want to hear people tell the stories of him sitting at their table and talking," St. Claire said.
Contact Barry Courter at email@example.com or 423-757-6354.