In her statement, Bills cited multiple reasons for the restaurant's closure, but labor costs in particular: "From the outside looking in, it seems that it’s all about the food, but from the inside looking out, it’s all about the labor." She elaborated:
We started The Wild Hare with our own personal nest egg, and when the money was gone, it was just gone. We were all in, and with our butts on the line. I kept it going as long as I could, but there were just too many other new places for people to try, the economy affected people’s ability to eat out regularly, and I just couldn’t keep the kitchen staffed with stable and effective people (not that there weren’t some fantastic people back there who rode it out with us 'til the end — for which I will be eternally grateful).
Bills plans a novel way to dismantle the restaurant — tomorrow, Thursday, Dec. 26, they are throwing a farewell party and sale at the restaurant. From the announcement:
On December 26th, we will have a combination party/silent auction/garage sale at the restaurant. We will be offering some of the art and memorabilia for purchase via silent auction, whereas other items which are more functional and less memorable will be available for purchase at a discount.
For example: want to donate some paper goods to your church? You get double karma points for giving them a good home and putting a little cash in the till. Really want the chicken in the glass case? Bid on it, and it will go to the person who wants it the most. We will sell out the remaining beer, wine and open alcohol at reduced prices, and we will feed you snacks (maybe bbq sandwiches? We’ve not decided about that part yet).
We will hold a special VIP preview from 12-2pm. If you really want something from The Hare (like the sign out front), make us an offer we can’t refuse, and it’s yours sans auction. If you would like an invitation to this event, you need just ask. Email me at Elizabeth@elizabethbills.com, or message me on our FB to be added to the guest list.
The main event will be from 4-7pm. We hope you can make it, even if it’s just for a beverage and a hug.
Bills and her husband, restaurant veteran Brian Bills (former owner of the original Blue Moon marina cafe) opened The Wild Hare in June 2011, in a little house at 316 White Bridge Road that has had many restaurant identities over the years.
The Wild Hare immediately gained notice for menu items like wood-fired pizzas, locally sourced burgers and inventive salads and desserts. Scene reviewer Carrington Fox gave The Wild Hare a positive review in July 2011, noting a friendly vibe and cleverly devised menu with appeal to all generations, kids and adults.
Also in 2011, The Wild Hare was also named Best New Restaurant in the Scene's Best of Nashville Readers Poll.
In September of this year, The Wild Hare got a prestigious nod; it was chosen as one of the local restaurants represented at Kings of Leon’s Music City Eats festival, serving up two popular Wild Hare specialties: deviled eggs with smoked gouda and peanut butter pie.
Nonetheless, the restaurant has struggled. A few weeks ago it sent a message to fans on its email list saying that if business didn’t pick up, it would have to close by the end of December.
To read the closure announcement and further conversation, check out the Wild Hare page on Facebook.