Broadway Brewhouse is now playing on Lower Broad, taking over the former Harley Holt furniture store briefly occupied by Casa Bona restaurant. The other two locations—the original in midtown backed up to Mojo Grill, and Brewhouse West on Highway 70—remain open and thriving. Co-owner Kelly Jones says he wasn’t particularly looking to open a third, but his friend, and now partner, Hardy Ross made him a deal he couldn’t refuse.
“Hardy has Rippy’s downtown, so he knows the area pretty well,” says Jones, speaking loudly over the hubbub of construction and service crews putting the final touches on the transformation of the Italian restaurant into a decidedly downscaled roadhouse. “He and I ski together, and last winter at Beaver Creek he said there might be a space opening up soon on Lower Broad. Next thing I knew, he called and told me we had it. I didn’t even know exactly where it was, but with everything that’s happening downtown, I figured I’d better get in while we still can.”
While the bar opened June 2, chef Ed Arace—responsible for Mojo Grill and Brewhouse West—is keeping things tight and light in the kitchen, anticipating that huge spillover from the CMA Music Festival might overwhelm the restaurant its first week of operation. He expects to roll out the full menu, including pizzas, by the third week of June. Meanwhile, customers can wet their whistle from among 72 taps behind the 60-foot bar. Broadway Brewhouse is at 317 Broadway (271-2838), and like its siblings will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.
Born to be Wild
Are pigs flying? A glance skyward to check the conditions might be the natural reaction to the news that Brett Allen has hired two women to helm the kitchen at The Wild Boar, the restaurant he co-owns with his mother Mary. Since its opening by the late Dr. Tom Allen about 15 years ago, the Boar has not only garnered a reputation for its multimillion dollar wine cellar and extravagantly presented and priced dining, but maintained a steadfastly high testosterone level in both the front and back of the house. A succession of male chefs have worn the top toque, most notably the nationally acclaimed Bob Waggoner (who left for Charleston in 1997) and most recently Colin Quirk, who moved here from Atlanta’s Four Seasons in October and saw the restaurant declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March, departing for parts unknown last month.
Stepping fearlessly into the maw are chefs Kim Totzke and Laura Wilson, whose friendship was sparked at the bar of Café Margot in East Nashville three years ago. Their business relationship began when Totzke—then executive chef for Katie and Gep Nelson’s restaurant group that includes The Yellow Porch and Wild Iris—hired Wilson to chef the Iris. Their professional partnership fell into place when Totzke’s plan to open her own restaurant on Eighth Avenue South fell through as the development of the Melrose stalled, and Wilson—secretly at work on a business plan for her own place—suggested they pair up.
Plan A—purchasing an existing restaurant in East Nashville, where both women live—didn’t pan out; Plan B, working with a developer to construct their own space in the same neighborhood, is currently underway, though the opening is at least a year down the road. As they await the birth of their own baby, Totzke and Wilson will foster Allen’s troubled adolescent, taking over the kitchen June 20. Major changes are afoot.
A few months ago, celebrity chef Emeril and a sizable entourage made a grand entrance at the newly opened Radius 10 in the Gulch. They were seated at a highly visible table with a view of Union Station Hotel, which is what had brought him to town. As it turns out, though, it will not keep him here.
When local downtown development moguls Mark Bloom, Ronnie Scott and Larry Papel teamed up with Florida-headquartered Turnberry Associates to purchase the Union Station Hotel last year, they announced that a multimillion-dollar renovation of the historic property would begin immediately, with the intent of ultimately snagging a four-diamond rating and a significant chunk of upper-end visitors to Nashville. More quietly, they declined to renew the lease of the dining institution in its lobby, and on Dec. 31, after 26 years in business—15 at Union Station—Arthur’s served its last seven-course meal.
Since then, the meticulous renovation of the hotel’s magnificent lobby is now ready for its close-up, and the upgrades of all 125 rooms and 12 suites are well underway, with completion expected by early 2007. While the reinvention of the hotel restaurant is not exactly on a back burner, the large room in the west corner of the lobby will probably remain vacant for some time.
“The restaurant is an ongoing game plan,” Bloom says. “Should we do a structured lease, or should we own and operate that space ourselves? We have been meeting with some out-of-town restaurant people, and it’s been interesting, but no decisions have been made.”
The Union Station group’s first joint venture—the downtown Hilton—brought us The Palm from New York, an extremely successful partnership by any measure. Emeril was one of the out-of-town restaurateurs considered for Union Station, but his asking price was not in proportion to his appeal, diminished by extreme over-exposure. A local name that popped up in conversation with Bloom was one that would be a powerful draw among foodies, a crucial factor when striving to balance the clientele in a hotel restaurant between lodgers and destination diners.
In 2000, Scott Alderson and Kevin Boehm prematurely opened the Gulch’s first new restaurant, 6º, which closed in September 2001. Alderson spent the next couple years at Saffire in Franklin, and most recently was opening chef at Layla R’ul, a smashing culinary performance that could not quite translate into mainstream popularity. Since the downsizing of that kitchen, Alderson has been fishing—literally—in North Carolina and Florida, and figuratively casting his line into the restaurant pool for nibbles that would offer opportunity for his spectacular creativity. So far, there has been a casual conversation with Bloom, and both parties have expressed interest. With close to $20 million committed to the restoration of one of the city’s grandest hotels, an investment in one of the city’s most gifted but thus far underutilized chefs would be quite the catch.