Sunset Grill, Midtown Cafe, Cabana
Most people first meet Randy Rayburn at one of his nationally renowned restaurants, Sunset Grill or Cabana in Hillsboro Village, or Midtown Cafe on 19th Avenue south. They are, however, just as likely to meet him in and around Nashville, giving his time as a community leader. Randy is passionate about giving back to the community. Additionally, he designates one percent of all sales from his restaurants to non-profit and community organizations.
Born in Memphis and raised on a 27 acre farm in Milan with 5 acres of strawberries, he worked during high school at the Milan Supermarket, where he gained culinary skills beyond his Grandmother’s home cooking. After graduating from UT-Knoxville, he returned to Nashville and started his career while going to night law school in 1975. He dropped out of school later to pursue his dream of owning his own restaurant. He worked in numerous restaurants, including Gaylord Opryland Hotel in management and opened 11 restaurants in the Nashville area for others before selling his home in 1990 to open his own Sunset Grill.
An avid supporter of hunger-relief and non-profit arts organizations, Rayburn passionately cares about Nashville’s economic development. From 1999 to 2009, he served on the Board and as Chairman of the Nashville Convention Center and Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Task Force that led to our new Music City Center. In 2011, the Nashville State Community College and its faculty unanimously voted to name the NSCC Culinary Program, the Randy Rayburn School of Culinary Arts, which he started in 1998.
He is also a past president and board member of Nashville’s Table along with the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, Symphony Guild and numerous others. In addition, you have probably run into him while he was organizing fundraising events such as Taste of the Nation, Taste of the NFL and Generous Helpings. Since 2000, Sunset Grill has represented Nashville at the Taste of the NFL dinner benefiting United Way at each Super Bowl. He also helped start the Nashville Originals, a local group of now over 50+ independently owned local restaurants.
Rayburn is part of the Leadership Nashville class of 1998 and was nominated for the Mary Katherine Strobel Award for Community Volunteerism the same year. In 2000 he was named Outstanding Volunteer of the Year by the Nashville Society for Fund Raising Executives. In 2009 Randy was nominated for Tennessean of the Year (click to read more).
Sunset Grill was also selected as a single-unit finalist for the National Restaurant Association Neighbor Award. He received the Restaurateur of the Year by the American Culinary Federation - Middle TN and the TN Restaurant Association in the past and the Tennessee Hospitality Association in 2012.
Rayburn believes that Middle Tennessee prospers as each individual, family and business succeeds. To that end he has focused many of his efforts in and around the revitalization of Hillsboro Village where he resides with his wife Sonata, son Duke, two dogs, Dusty and Tattie and cat, Gracie.
Read about Randy in The Tennessean.
Read about Randy in the Nashville Business Journal.