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GARAGE GALLERY

Photo Gallery: Tate Automotive in Cross Plains, Tennessee

Our photographer Mike Apice was recently visiting the Dorman facility in Portland, Tennessee, when he stopped in to a small repair shop in nearby Cross Plains. Here’s a look around from his perspective.
Tate Automotive first opened as a Chevrolet dealership in the 1929 in Cross Plains, Tennessee. Customers would view a sample vehicle and then order exactly what car they would like, directly from the manufacturer.

Through the generations, it’s changed into the family repair shop that is still a local meeting place in this one-stop-sign town an hour north of Nashville.

I walked in cold with no calls or emails, and I met the owner Rich Rodriguez, now the sole proprietor after his father-in-law stepped away from the business. Rich not only gave me a history lesson in the shop but also introduced me to relatives, neighbors and friends who were all gracious with these incredible stories and showing pictures from the past.

I was allowed access to anywhere I wanted, and initially it looked like a regular auto shop. But within minutes a stream of people just started to show up and share things about this little town and Tate Auto.

It’s not uncommon for relatives or neighbors to just walk in and share a story or catch up on the local happenings. The drug store just across the street has that same welcoming appearance. You’d swear it was from the 1950s with its wooden booths and working soda fountains.

The shop and town are as charming as the owner, and things seem to move a bit slower down here, just like they say about the South. It’s refreshing to see a repair shop that’s not just located in a community, but is an active, vibrant part of it where customers stop in to share and get news, and take a moment to catch up with Rich. The tiny town is just adorable, and the prospect of a milkshake at the drugstore next to the barber is irresistible. In fact, that’s often where you’ll find Rich. I called him there to shore up a few details for this story!
General store dining area, Cross Plains, TN
General store interior, Cross Plains, TN
If you wanted to make a movie about the heart of America, you’d do it in a town just like Cross Plains. It’s no wonder the shop has been here for nearly a hundred years—that’s about as long as I would have liked to have stayed.

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