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Taste of the South

Ryan Yokley and Keri Golden serve up down-home cuisine at The Southern Table in Pulaski
Story and photos by Claire Hill 1/20/2023

The aroma of fried chicken and homemade biscuits wafts through the air as customers enter The Southern Table on Pulaski’s town square in Giles County. The host seats family after family in the restaurant, and guests eagerly await their entrées. 

“I moved to Pulaski for college 10 years ago and there wasn’t anything like this in the community,” raves customer James Sellers. “The food and drinks are phenomenal, and I’m happy to have something like this right down the road from where I live and work without having to travel.” 

Couples enjoy lively conversations, families mingle amongst each other, and laughs echo throughout the space. Homemade biscuits served in the signature iron skillet for extra crispiness are paired with house-made jams. 

Located at 227 N. 1st Street in Pulaski, Ryan Yokley and Keri Golden opened The Southern Table in June 2019, never expecting the onslaught of the pandemic to hit rural Tennessee just a few short months later. A trained chef, Ryan could have never predicted the impact COVID-19 would have on his business, but thanks to the support of the community, to-go orders kept coming as people grew weary of cooking at home and were unable to dine in restaurants due to state restrictions. 

“We wouldn’t be here today if we didn’t have the support of our community as they enjoyed our meals from the comfort of their homes until the restrictions lifted,” says Ryan. 

Giles County natives Ryan and Keri grew up together, both having a passion for tasty food and southern hospitality. 

“When I was 21, I had a food truck and asked Keri if she would come on board to help me,” says Ryan. “That project was a success, and we even catered private dinners at the local country club.” 

Ryan says he knew that if he ever opened a restaurant, he would want Keri’s help. She gained valuable experience in hospitality from a young age when she helped her grandmother run a local restaurant. After high school, she had various roles in the hospitality industry in Middle and East Tennessee, honing the skills that would one day allow her to manage a restaurant in her hometown. 

Ryan, meanwhile, attended the Nashville Art Institute and graduated with a culinary degree in 2012. After more than seven years of working in fine dining establishments in Middle Tennessee, he made the long-awaited decision to return home. 

“Ryan called and told me that he was coming home to open The Southern Table and asked if I was interested in partnering with him,” says Keri. “I didn’t hesitate and agreed.”

Ryan’s plan was to add a southern twist to everything about the new restaurant, from its name to its menu. 

“The way I prepare the dishes — or even choose the ingredients — sets everything uniquely southern,” he explains.

Keri says there were not a lot of options for a nice sit-down meal in Pulaski when the restauranteurs opened their doors in 2019. 

“We see The Southern Table as a great option for families, date nights, or for old friends catching up,” she says. 

The Southern Table offers a variety of menu options, which change seasonally. They also offer special dinners with multiple courses for occasions such as Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve. 

Active on both Instagram and Facebook, Keri often posts updates about upcoming events, menu changes, and more. 

“We have seen a lot of success through our social media outlets,” says Keri. “It’s great to interact with our community members online as they encourage and support our business.” 

The Southern Table’s menu includes entrées such as fried chicken, catfish, filets, and hamburger steak. The beef is provided by Simpson’s Meats, a farmer-owned, fine meats purveyor in Knoxville. They have a small-scale family-operated butcher shop featuring grass-fed meats and high-genetic Angus beef. Willow Oaks Farm, located right outside of Pulaski in Prospect, provides beef to Simpson’s Meats, so guests often enjoy locally grown products at the restaurant. The Southern Table also partners with Tennessee Valley Microgreens Farm in Pulaski with their microgreens for salads and various garnishes. 

“It means a lot for us to support area farmers,” says Ryan. “The hospitality and agriculture industries go hand in hand, and it’s an honor to serve local products at our restaurant.” 

The Southern Table is open Thursday-Sunday. Hours include Thursday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with a brunch offering earlier in the day. 

“Brunch has been one of our busiest and most successful offerings,” says Ryan. “We have done brunch since the beginning, and we don’t see that stopping any time soon.”

For more information about the restaurant, visit or call 931-292-6333. For Valentine’s 

Day reservations, call the restaurant and visit their social media pages such as Instagram or Facebook to see the courses planned for the special occasion. 

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