4 minute read

Jack and Jill Nut Shop

~story and photos by Paige Langenderfer

All of my best memories are in this town and I wanted Reagan to have a childhood like mine.

           —Kamady Rudd Lewis

As her father began the day’s chores, the smell of warm, roasting nuts instantly took Kamady Lewis back to her childhood and the countless memories she made in the back room of her family’s business, the Jack and Jill Nut Shop.

“I basically grew up back there,” said Lewis, 35. “I had a bean bag chair, a VHS player, and all of my art supplies. What else does a girl need?”

Kamady’s dad and store owner, Marc Rudd, also warmly recalls those memories. He even still displays several of Kamady’s works of art on the store walls.

“She made a new masterpiece just about every day,” Marc said. “She walked around town like she owned the place.”

Leslie Rudd, Marc’s dad, opened Jack and Jill Nut Shop in 1967 to offer roasted nuts, fudge, and candy to tourists visiting Nashville. The store has been at the same location, at 78 South Van Buren Street, for 54 years.

“Grandpa had worked in a nut factory for many years, and that is what sparked the idea,” Kamady said. “Everyone always asks us who Jack and Jill are, but the name actually came from a store my grandma worked at when she was young. She always liked the name and asked grandpa if he would name the store Jack and Jill Nut Shop.”

In 1986, Leslie suffered a stroke and was not able to continue managing the store. Marc had worked alongside his dad in the store and had always hoped to take over the business one day, but the stroke moved up the timeline without warning.

“It was very sudden and I hadn’t learned as much as I would have liked about running the business, but I learned,” Marc said. “In all these years, the only thing I have changed was adding a few new types of candy.”

This past summer, Kamady and her husband Ronnie Lewis decided to keep the business in the family and joined Marc as co-owners. While she is extremely excited about the future, Kamady said the little girl who played in the back of the store never imagined she would ever take over the nut shop.

“It just wasn’t something I really ever thought about,” Kamady said. “I had always dreamt of covering sports on TV, so I just assumed that is what I would do my whole life.”

Those dreams did come true for Kamady. After graduating from Indiana University with a degree in journalism and sports communication, Kamady moved to Las Vegas for her first “real job.”

“I covered baseball for radio, but I didn’t make much money,” she said.

She moved to San Diego and then to a small town in Iowa to pursue jobs in TV. Her next move to Shreveport, Louisiana was a life changing experience.

“I got to anchor TV sports. I even got to freelance for ESPN and numerous college conferences,” Kamady said. “I got to cover Dennis Rodman and several college athletes who are now in the pros. I have talked to all of the Mannings, except Peyton.”

She also met her husband, Ronnie Lewis, while in Louisiana.

“I honestly never thought I would get married because my career was so crazy,” she said. “But after I met him I started to see things differently. My priorities changed. I was tired of working so much and missing holidays with my family.”

In an effort to move closer to her family, Kamady accepted a morning TV news job in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 2019, after four years as an anchor in Michigan, Kamady and Ronnie’s son Reagan was born.

“After having my son, I knew I wanted to find something different,” Kamady said. “I was still five hours from my parents and I wanted Reagan to grow up around family.”

She took one final TV job in Cleveland, Ohio, for a year before deciding that she was ready to move back to Nashville to help run the nut shop.

“I just felt drawn back,” Kamady said. “All of my best memories are in this town and I wanted Reagan to have a childhood like mine.”

Since moving to Nashville, Kamady said she has flashbacks every time she sees 2-year-old Reagan toddling through the shop.

“He was immediately comfortable here,” she said. “He’s a bit of a tornado, but it is so nice that he gets to see my parents every day now and he can be a part of the shop.”

As for the future, Kamady said she does not plan to make many changes to the business. She has, however, added the store to social media and created a website that allows customers to order online.

All of the nuts will continue to be freshly roasted in the store every day.

“This is dad’s baby and obviously it has worked so we’re not trying to change anything,” Kamady said. “The customers always ask for him. I’m glad he’s going to stick around to teach us and to just spend time with us.”

Learn more at www.jackandjillnutshop.com call 812- 988-7480, or find Jack and Jill Nut Shop on Facebook.