One conversation with Thomas and we knew he wasn't from around here. His Southern drawl was subtle yet distinctive enough to prompt the question, "Where are you from?" 

"Nashville," he said.

And that's when we knew it was fate.

Thomas Heile, our new marketing automation manager, is from the same city in which we'll be hosting Interchange this year. So who better to spill the (Southern) tea on what to do in Nashville?

Q: What was it like growing up in Nashville?

TH: Growing up in Nashville was a lot of fun. It’s cool to see aspiring musicians make it big. The people are kind, the food is great, and the sports are getting better. My best memories in Nashville are spent on the lake. You’re never further than 30 minutes from a nice warm lake where you can ski, fish, or just hang out. 

Q: Many of us have never been to Nashville. Where should we eat, what sites we should see, and what we should try to do?

TH: People think of barbeque when they think of Tennessee, but Memphis is three hours away. I love the TexMex and Nashville-style hot chicken. Chuy’s is a great TexMex chain with locations downtown and close to the hotel, but my favorite is SATCO. Do yourself a favor and stop by San Antonio Taco Company (SATCO) on 21st Ave. to get a couple steak tacos, queso, and an experience.

For hot chicken, Hattie B’s is the spot, but be prepared to stand in a line out the door. It moves fast and is definitely worth the wait. How much heat can you handle? 

Q: What was the biggest culture shock you had moving from Tennessee to Utah?

TH: The humidity and mountains. I’m used to mountains in Tennessee, but they’re much easier to hike than the mountains in Utah. One hundred percent humidity is common for Tennessee, so bring an extra shirt if you plan on walking around.

The cultures themselves are similar, but I miss the country accents of my people. Get ready to hear lots of y'alls.

Q: Describe Nashville in three words.

TH: Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.

Q: What do you miss the most about day-to-day life in Nashville? What do you miss the least?

TH: I miss the thunderstorms and the clear air. I do not miss the amount of bugs. It sounds like a rainforest out your window on summer nights when the crickets and bullfrogs are competing for who can be louder.

Q: Any final thoughts?

TH: Nashville is an amazing city that’s combining country, hipster, and tech. You can find trendy speakeasies, redneck bars, and a tech startup on the same street. Get out of the hotel and mall area, take an rideshare down to Broadway, explore the country music scene, and walk down the river. Downtown is clean and pretty safe but stick with a couple friends just in case.