John’s Place was once known as Ed’s Place and McClellan’s Café. It was the second grocery shop in Cookeville run by African Americans when Ed McClellan opened it in 1949. The structure was originally divided by a partition wall, with doors leading to a restaurant on the south side and a grocery shop on the north side.
In 1963, Ed sold his part of the business to his brother John Lee McClellan. John Lee took the partitioning wall out and made it into one open space with a kitchen area and horseshoe bar, where he sold beer to be consumed on the premises after receiving a license.
His nephew, “Shakey,” also John Lee McClellan, was well-respected. He would be next in line to take over John’s Place. The first African American tennis player in Cookeville, he is a strong part of the reason Cookeville has tennis courts.
Shakey managed John’s Place in Cookeville and was a strong supporter of Tech Athletics. For years, he worked the admission ticket gates for Tech football and basketball games and developed friendships with many Tech athletes that lasted for decades.
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