Cees Brinkman: The Heart and Soul Behind The Pharmacy Burger in Nashville

By Spencer Hulse Spencer Hulse has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on November 2, 2023

If you’ve ever found yourself hungry after a day of honky-tonking in Nashville, searching for a filling and delicious meal to chase hours of live music and beer, then you’ve probably come across The Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden — a European-inspired joint that’s been a staple in Music City since 2011. Behind this culinary gem is a man with a vision: Cees Brinkman, founder and owner of The Pharmacy.

Brinkman serves as more than a restaurateur, standing out as a community builder and an advocate for genuine, authentic experiences. Born in the Netherlands, he made the life-altering decision to move to Nashville in 1990. It wasn’t long before he realized that the city lacked some of the neighborhood touchstones he cherished from his homeland, like casual gathering spots, delicious food, and truly excellent beer.

In 2011, Brinkman decided to take matters into his own hands and introduced Nashville to The Pharmacy, his food-and-beverage concept designed to fill those very gaps. This burger haven, with its European beer garden ambiance, would soon become a beloved oasis for locals and tourists alike. For Brinkman, The Pharmacy was more than just a restaurant but a way to create a sense of community and a place to nourish both bodies and souls.

The Pharmacy stands out for a variety of reasons, starting with its commitment to quality. Brinkman and his team believe in serving the very best products at the very best value. They use grass-fed beef for their legendary, unique burgers and 100% pure cane sugar in their sodas, keeping with the tradition of old-time pharmacists who crafted soda concoctions in-shop. The wurst (sausages) at The Pharmacy are ground, stuffed, and smoked in-house, and the condiments are crafted from scratch to complement the exceptional entrées.

Pharmacy Burger
Photo Credit: The Pharmacy

But what truly sets The Pharmacy apart is its beer selection. The team has meticulously curated one of the most distinctive beer collections in Nashville, even importing brews from around the world. This dedication to serving the best food and beverages not just in his neighborhood, not just in his city, but throughout the state of Tennessee is a testament to Brinkman’s dedication to excellence.

Beyond the impressive menu fare, The Pharmacy is known for its friendly and welcoming staff. The team’s warm demeanor and inviting attitude make every visitor feel like part of the family. This sense of community extends to the beautiful outdoor beer garden, where it’s easy to lose track of time while enjoying good company paired with delicious eats and refreshing brews.

Over the years, Brinkman and his team have established a thriving community around their three Pharmacy Burger locations, and they couldn’t be prouder. His greatest satisfaction comes from seeing happy faces and welcoming back familiar ones. To Brinkman, a successful day is when every guest leaves with a smile.

Brinkman’s success in the culinary realm can be attributed to several key principles he passionately believes in. First, he stresses the importance of authenticity. He doesn’t try to cater to tourists or conform to trends. Instead, he stays true to his European roots. The Pharmacy exudes old-world charm blended with American flair, reflecting Brinkman’s family heritage and culinary upbringing.

Brinkman is also a strong advocate for investing in the local community. He believes that caring for the people in your neighborhood is the key to building a successful business. Getting to know your regular customers, participating in community events, and showing that you genuinely care can lead to a loyal customer base and significant growth. His theory has proven successful in recent years as The Pharmacy expanded to its second and third locations.

Furthermore, Brinkman understands that the experience of dining out is paramount. While the food and drinks at The Pharmacy are top-notch, it’s the warmhearted atmosphere and the sense of belonging that keep customers coming back.

Brinkman’s journey from the Netherlands to Nashville led to the creation of a place that brings people together. With a commitment to quality, authenticity, and a strong focus on the community, Brinkman and his team have left an indelible mark on Nashville’s culinary landscape.

By Spencer Hulse Spencer Hulse has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Spencer Hulse is the Editorial Director at Grit Daily. He is responsible for overseeing other editors and writers, day-to-day operations, and covering breaking news.

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