Mere Bulles’ rich and influential history begins with its muse, Mother Bubbles, who was the grandmother of the original owner, after whom the restaurant was named. She was born Michele Bouvier around 1840 in Deauville, a glamorous, sophisticated city on the Atlantic coast of France, near the mouth of the river Seine. She began her life as the illegitimate daughter of the owner of a bodega in Deauville, grew to become the belle of New York, and later opened one of the most popular restaurants in Charleston, South Carolina. One thing Michele loved throughout her life was champagne. She was known to have as many as a dozen toasts during an evening at her restaurant, and the bubbly was never far from her stove when she was cooking. Her love of champagne earned her the nickname “Mother Bubbles,” which in French is translated as Mere Bulles.
Turn the clock forward to 1985, when Rodney Wise opened the restaurant called Mere Bulles, on Second Avenue in a then-struggling area of downtown Nashville. The downtown building, once the old Maxwell House Coffee Warehouse, is rumored to be near the location where the signature phrase “good to the last drop” was first uttered by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907. The atmosphere of Mere Bulles was truly inspired by Mother Bubbles herself: lively, welcoming, and entertaining. Mere Bulles’ downtown success was instrumental in the revitalization of the now vibrant Second Avenue & Broadway district of Nashville. Prior to the advent of the “corporate steakhouse,” Mere Bulles was the preeminent go-to place for Nashville fine dining.
In June of 2000, Mere Bulles moved a few miles south of downtown Nashville to Maryland Manor, a historic plantation-style farmhouse and former estate home in Brentwood. The Mansion itself was built in 1942 with bricks salvaged from a previous historic building that was torn down near the present site, thus giving Maryland Manor it’s authentic Old South appearance. The Maryland Farms business district and neighborhood where the current location thrives derive its name from the once grand 400 acre estate.
Today, Mere Bulles is an active participant in the community and continues to be a beloved local tradition. Mere Bulles continues to serve the Nashville business community as well as its neighbors and out of town guests. With a rich, long history, the word has spread to out of town visitors who enjoy the stories and are always greeted with a new-old Southern Dining experience.