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Mt. Juliet man indicted for reckless homicide, assault

A Mt. Juliet man faces charges of reckless homicide and aggravated assault nearly four months after an incident claimed the life of a patron at the downtown Nashville bar where he worked.

According to the Nashville Metro Police Department’s public affairs office, Dylan Thomas Larocca, 33, of Mt. Juliet, surrendered himself to the NMPD downtown detention center last Friday.

Five other men, all co-workers of Larocca’s, are also now in custody, following similar indictments from a Davison County Grand Jury.

The charges stem from an incident that occurred on Aug. 16, at the bar, Whiskey Row, which is located at 400 Broadway Street in Nashville.

According to a Nov. 5 release from the NMPD, officers responded to the top floor of (Whiskey Row) following a 911 call made minutes before 11 p.m.

“The initial responding officers found Barrett on the floor unresponsive and began CPR until they were relieved by Nashville Fire Department personnel,” the release said. “Barrett was transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.”

The medical examiner moved to classify the death as a homicide in November. It had been an unclassified death pending the medical examiner’s final determination of asphyxiation as the cause, although the MNPD Homicide Unit has been leading the investigation since the night Barrett died.

Detectives were reportedly told by bar staff that Barrett became unruly and was asked to leave. They also said that he began to fight with security staff, who pulled him to the ground and held him on the floor. It was during this time that Barrett became unresponsive.

The other Whiskey Row employees charged in the incident are: John D. Eustace, 26, of Hermitage; Mark Ryan Watkins, 24, last known address DeBary, Florida; Mallet Daquan Meneese, 30, of Hermitage; Jaelen Alexander Maxwell, 23, of Murfreesboro; and Tarrell K. Gray, 25, of Nashville.

Also indicted is Steven John Simon, 44, of Hermitage, a non-employee who appeared to hold Barrett’s legs while he was on the ground.

A criminal court judge set bond for each of the defendants at $25,000.

Detective David Studer, detective Chris Cote and sergeant Adam Read from the MNPD Homicide Unit led the investigation.

Clayborn's Bakery ends decades-long run

A long-standing Lebanon bakery with roots dating back to the 1950s is opening its doors on Christmas Eve for one final day in business.

For many, it’s the end of an era, but for the owners and their family, it’s been a chance to share and laugh in the memories that made it so special.

J. Clayborn’s Bakery hasn’t always been at its current location on West Main Street in Lebanon. It hasn’t even always been called J. Clayborn’s Bakery.

It used to be called Driver’s Bakery, famous for the Driver’s coconut cakes, until Johnnie Clayborn became the sole owner and later changed the name.

After getting out of the Army, Clayborn began his baking career under the supervision of Robert Driver in the fall of 1951. Back then, the bakery was located off the square. Clayborn learned the trade under Driver’s mentorship.

In July of 1960, Clayborn bought a half-interest in the company. Four years later, he became the sole owner. It moved to its current location in 1970 and expanded its offering to include a delicatessen and snack bar.

Clayborn passed away in 2016, but his wife, Erline, is still actively involved, even if it’s her granddaughters, Brittany Kimble and Brooke Pickler, now holding the ownership reins. Erline Clayborn answers the phones, a job that she pointed out is vital, as her granddaughters help serve the patrons in the store.

Connie Pickler, the Clayborns’ daughter, said that after the bakery closed the last time, that her daughters decided they wanted to reopen it. This was also in 2016.

The eldest of those girls, Kimble, said that the bakery doubled as a daycare for her and her sister while they were growing up.

“We were 100% totally raised in this bakery,” Kimble said. “So, you know being raised around something like that, you’re always thinking eventually, one day, it could be mine.

“When we decided to take it on and reopen it, the only goal we had in mind was to restore what it had been to the community and what our grandfather thought it could be.”

The bakery may have been a connective tissue for the people around town, but Kimble always believed her grandfather intended for it to bring the family closer.

“I get asked all the time ... ‘What is the best part?’ ” Kimble said. “It’s how close me and my sister have become.”

Still, the tight-knit family relishes the chance to make other families happy with what they cook.

“We know what our products are to people,” said Kimble. “Our cakes are their Christmas tradition. Our pies are (at) their Thanksgiving meals.”

That long-standing tradition has helped make family out of those friends.

“I wouldn’t even say that the people who come in here are our customers,” said Brooke Pickler. “They are more like extended family.”

Pickler said that when she graduated from college in Pikeville, Kentucky, several customers from the bakery came to her graduation party, because, “they are just a part of our family now.”

The two bakery owners said that they have various favorite menu items.

“If you ask Brooke what her favorite thing is this week, it’s chocolate donuts,” Kimble said laughing.

Pickler added, “I’m just trying to eat enough that I won’t want one after we close.”

The bakery has long been a Lebanon institution, famous even outside the city, with patrons traveling for some of their favorite menu items.

On Wednesday, Hartsville’s Kenny and June Linville came in for lunch.

“When I was a child, my dad would stop in here, and we would get a bag of rolls,” June Linville said. “We’d have them eaten by the time we got home.”

The Linvilles saw an old friend dining in J. Clayborn’s. Martha Dixon, a former high-school classmate of June Linville’s in Carthage, estimated that she had spent more than $400 on cookies at J. Clayborn’s this year alone.

“It’s such a tradition for people here,” Dixon said. “It’s killing me that they’re closing.”

The decision to close was “not made lightly,” according to the owners. Kimble said that the bakery has had now-hiring signs on the doors for more than a year. They’ve tried Facebook posts, ZipRecruiter ads, and even reached out to local government officials about available resources for attracting labor.

Trying to fill in the gaps themselves has proven immensely challenging as well.

“I got here at 3 a.m. yesterday, and left at 8 (p.m.),” said Kimble.

For the newlywed, working 16-hour days simply isn’t sustainable.

Ideally, the owners would like to see the bakery remain open.

“Our goal is to find a potential buyer,” said Kimble. “We feel like the city needs this. It’s been a safe space for so many, and for a lot of people, their story in Lebanon started here.”

Kimble explained that numerous realtors would bring potential home buyers to the bakery when they were first visiting the area.

“I can’t tell you how many families have met other families and become life-long friends right there in those booths,” Kimble said.

No matter what happens, the family will hold fast to the memories. Kimble’s cousin, Tiffany Harris, was dining with a dozen other family members on Wednesday. Harris said that she has been coming to the bakery since birth.

“We always came here with our grandfather,” Harris said smiling. “There was a cigarette machine in the corner, and the joke was we’d be here until all those cigarettes were gone.”

While Thursday’s hours (from 6 a.m. until 5 p.m.) remain as normal, J. Clayborn’s will have modified hours on Christmas Eve, closing the doors for the final time after serving customers from 6 a.m. until 10 a.m.

A nip of holiday cheer

It’s not exactly egg nog … but the winner of the Vintage Wine & Spirits annual Christmas auction will certainly receive a holiday delight.

However, the big winners will actually be the Mt. Juliet Animal Shelter and Lebanon’s New Leash on Life organization.

Vintage Wine & Spirits — which is located in the western portion of Wilson County (at 15,255 Lebanon Road in Old Hickory) — is in its fourth year of holding an auction that benefits area organizations.

“We donate to schools every year,” Vintage Wine & Spirits co-owner and general manager Jen Hooper said. “This is our big auction every year. We like to support our community. We have a lot of really great customers. We feel like a family.

“We like to give back to people in need. There’s so many in need. Any chance we can do it, we want to do it.”

For the previous three years, the proceeds from the auction went to the Mt. Juliet Help Center, with last year’s auction bringing in $4,500 after generating $3,300 in 2019.

Both of this year’s auctions will benefit animal-affiliated organizations.

“Helping people through the Mt. Juliet Help Center was wonderful,” Hooper said. “I have dogs. We have a lot of people who come in with dogs. All of our staff goes crazy when somebody who comes in with dogs. We’re all dog crazy. My little dog (a 5-year-old American Bulldog named Ella) is our mascot. We just love dogs. People light up when they see her. It brings so much joy to people. When they come in and see the dog, they feel free to bring their dogs in. Almost every one of our customers loves it.”

Ella has become popular enough to warrant her own social-media following.

“Customers wanted to see pictures of her when she wasn’t here,” Hooper said. “So, she has her own Instagram page.”

The auction to benefit the volunteer-based Mt. Juliet Animal Shelter involves a Buffalo Trace Antique Collection unit of four bottles of bourbon, including a 12-year-old bottle of Pappy Van Winkle, a 10-year-old bottle of Pappy Van Winkle and two other bottles from the same distiller.

Pappy Van Winkle is only released once per year — after Thanksgiving — and is limited in quantity.

At Vintage, a 10-year-old, 750-milliliter bottle of Pappy Van Winkle sells for $115, and the 12-year-old bottle sells for $135.

“Some people get a bottle ... some people get two ... some people get eight or 10,” Hooper said. “That’s pretty much the max.

“We don’t get much of it, so it’s very, very, very hard to find.”

As of Wednesday morning, that auction was at $4,300.

Vintage promotes the auctions on Facebook, but individuals must visit the store in order to bid on the unit. More than 9,300 people had seen the post as of Wednesday.

“The animal shelter is getting all of money from the sale of that unit,” Hooper said.

A separate auction that is ongoing that will benefit New Leash on Life, an organization that is dedicated to improving the welfare of companion animals in the community through shelter, placement, spay/neutering, education and awareness.

“It’s a trip to pick to out a George Dickel barrel (at the George Dickel Distillery in Tullahoma),” Hooper said. “It includes barrel sampling and lunch.”

The winner will have two friends of his/her choice accompanying the winner and Vintage co-owner Josh Johnson on the trip.

“Josh is pretty brilliant at things like that,” Hooper said. “We’ve done this for so long that we know how our bourbon crowd loves that type of thing. A couple of years ago, we took a group of customers with us to Kentucky (to the Buffalo Trace, Barton 1792 and Maker’s Mark distilleries), and they loved it.

“It’s a day with the owner to go pick a barrel, which a lot of customers don’t get to do. We pick about 45 barrels of bourbon every year. A group of three get to go. They have bourbon in (the barrels). You go and sample from five or six different barrels and pick which one you like the best. We’re going to be picking out a 15-year bourbon. They bottle it. The bottles come back here. Every bottle will have their names on it.”

That auction had climbed to more than $400 as of Wednesday.

In addition to the auctions, there is information on a variety of dogs currently at the Mt. Juliet Animal Shelter and at New Leash on Life displayed on the Christmas tree at Vintage that people can take and purchase items for. In fact, many of those dogs are up for adoption.

“A lot of people have seen (the auctions) online,” Hooper said. “We thought that if there’s that much interest that maybe they’ll be able to come in and adopt some of these animals or bring them something for the holidays.

“People are either sponsoring them or bringing them things to the store to get to those places. Most of them are up for adoption. We’re hoping for that too.”

Both auctions — which began on Dec 11 — conclude on Friday morning.

“There’s so many people in need,” Hooper said. “We grieve with people. There’s people in desperate need of love and attention and money. We’re just extremely blessed. We want to share it in any way we can.

“We’re not your typical liquor store. We’ve built a lot of good friends and good relationships with the community. We want to give back in any way that we can.”

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