NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) — The Hermitage House Smorgasbord restaurant has survived in Nashville for 52 years, even the pandemic couldn’t shut them down.
If you're wondering how and why, look no further than the restaurant's 93-year-old hostess.
Margit Prosser came to America after Nazi occupation in World War II in Czechoslovakia. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who loves America more than Mrs. Prosser.
“I was looking for happy people and I found them in America. The 101st Airborne Division when they came in, I said ‘Thank God I found happy people, if I can go to America I will,’” vowed Prosser.
There’s a story behind every photo. Her wedding picture with her husband Orlin, a courtship that of course could only begin in one place.
“He was the cook in Vienna, Austria where there is music and dance and I was washing dishes and he was cooking. That’s how we met,” said Mrs. Prosser.
Mrs. Prosser is funny, real funny and any conversation will be peppered with her famous one-liners.
“I always tell people when the busses come, please, don’t worry, we don’t run out of food but we do run out of patience,” laughed Prosser.
Her one-liners know no bounds even to her marriage with her late-husband.
“He worked hard, but with an army man, I don’t know, because he would give me orders. Finally one day, I’m going to tell you something, you are in the army not me! You obey those orders!” said Prosser.
Mr. Prosser died 20 years ago. Since then, she runs the restaurant with her children.
“There are five of us, one flew the coop. I was glad because he always wanted to change the menu,” said Prosser.
This restaurant is now 52 years old. It opened as the Country House Smorgasbord in 1971. They eventually moved here as the Hermitage House Smorgasbord for the bigger location.
But it's the same formula, a bursting buffet and bottomless enthusiasm.
“I am a missionary to Americans. I try to tell them you live in Christmasland. Wake up. Somebody said are you ready for Christmas? I have Christmas every day. I live in America,” said Prosser.
This restaurant not only made it through a pandemic, it survived a half-century of ups and downs. When you ask for a secret to success, you’ll get an unexpected answer.
“I can live without my washer, dryer, lots of things, but I could not live without hope. It’s hope that makes me smile at 93 and I look forward to coming to work and greeting my guests,” said Prosser.
Whether you eat or not, you will leave this restaurant full.
“When you think when I came to America I didn’t have a dollar, and now I have this beautiful business. Well sir, I am a believer. I am a Christian, I knew there was a god in heaven because I couldn’t do it without his help. America is not man made, it’s God made. And cash is king,” she added one last joke.
Mrs. Prosser’s message: It doesn’t matter what party you belong to, stop being so angry, you live in the greatest country on Earth. Be grateful.
The restaurant is also open on Thanksgiving and Christmas. They also have a family dining option for people who might want some holiday company.
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