You can almost hear the ka-chings ringing out from the restaurant-supply community as several long-awaited concepts come to fruition this fall. Oh, to be a refrigerator salesman—or a tequila purveyor—in Nashville in 2007.
Tequila on the rise
Agave Tequila Lounge—a project of music industry veterans Ken Levitan, Chris Ferran and Ross Schilling, along with Gulch developers Steve Armistead and Bill Barkley—is scheduled to open this week, serving a menu of creative Mexican cuisine and lots of tequila. Late last week, co-owner Scott Sherrill and chef Stan McDonald were putting the finishing touches on the renovation of the old Pie Wagon building at 118 12th Ave. S. After tearing the shell of the legendary meat-and-three down to the studs, they’ve rebuilt it with a red metal roof, front porch and glass garage doors. The interior—with dramatic star-shaped pendant lights, Mexican wrestling masks and other south-of-the-border artifacts—abolishes any memory of beans and greens and sets a stage for a contemporary menu of Mexican-inspired tapas that include house-made tortilla chips and salsas and guacamole made at the table. Flights of tequila will be served in Mexican carved candleholders, with three shot glasses and a popsicle from Las Paletas. Agave will initially open in the late afternoon and may eventually serve lunch.
Meanwhile, the crew at Lime recently finished a menu orientation with consultant Scott Alderson, who stopped in from Florida to help fine-tune the upscale menu of modern Latin fusion cuisine. Under the stewardship of executive chef Clay Greenberg, Lime promises to do for the food of Central and South America what sister restaurant Virago does for Asian cuisine—deliver it with creative, cosmopolitan flair in an irrepressibly chic environment. Expect a menu of Latin-inspired specialties such as tamales, ceviches, arepas and tostones.
Restaurateur Chris Hyndman, the brains behind Virago, Lime and Layl’a, has dreamed up a sleek environment accented with exotic wood paneling and glass garage doors and designed a multi-tiered layout of patios and circular booths. Indoor and outdoor bars will pour an extensive list of premium sipping tequilas and rums, as well as a menu of mojitos, margaritas and martinis. Located at 1904 Broadway, Lime is slated to open in November for dinner only.
East of eatin’
The rapid restaurantification of East Nashville continues with the arrival of Calypso Cafe. Allison and Phil Brooks plan to open the seventh location of their colorful and casual Caribbean-themed brand in January, in the former location of a Payless shoe store. Rebecca Burney will be the managing partner at the new store, which will bring all the Calypso standards—including black bean salad, roasted chicken, coconut-topped muffins and fruit tea—to the landlocked paradise of 301 Gallatin Road.
Over at Riverside and Porter, a few blocks from the emerging entrepreneurial cluster of Riverside Village, Dawn Fears is preparing for the launch of The Veggie Cafe. A recovering corporate employee, Fears is putting her years in the trenches at Nabisco, Home Depot and Dell—not to mention her MBA from University of Tennessee—to work on a vegan menu featuring recipes with organic and local products.
You may recognize native East Nashvillian Fears and her mother Marilyn Crutcher from earlier this summer, when they tested the waters with the vegan concept in the form of a mobile cart. After three months at the corner of Riverside and McGavock, they got the boot for being parked on a patch of grass—a codes no-no for mobile carts.
When the storefront opens at 1601 Riverside Drive, Fears will revive the healthy menu of fresh fruit smoothies and vegetarian wraps. Yes, the West African peanut soup will return, as will Healthy Soul Food Fridays, when Fears will reprise the meatless meatloaf that quickly drew a loyal crowd to the forbidden patch of grass.
As for that patch of grass, Fears is working with Riverside Village prime mover Dan Heller to organize a community garden, where she plans to grow some of the vegetables for her restaurant. Until then, she’s sourcing products from Delvin Farms, Eaton’s Creek Organics and other local providers. The Veggie Cafe will serve lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday.
Yankee transplant Mike Trigiani moved to Nashville 13 years ago, when the only hot dog he could find was under a heat lamp at an Exxon. Things have improved since then with the opening of Hot Diggity Dogs, The Dog and I Dream of Weenie. Now Trigiani is bringing his own dog to the fight, so to speak, with the upcoming opening of Zackie’s Original Hot Dog in Germantown.
Named for a dry goods salesman in Trigiani’s hometown, Zackie’s will serve traditional beef dogs from Nathan’s, turkey dogs, veggie dogs, bratwurst and Italian sausage and peppers, all on locally made bread. “There’s no way I’m serving a hot dog on store-bought bread,” he says. For now, Trigiani is still picking a baker, finishing up the building and looking to open in the next couple weeks. He’s also got a surprise up his sleeve—“a little side item that nobody in Nashville is used to,” he promises. Located at 1201 5th Ave. N., Ste. 103, Zackie’s will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
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