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The Wait Continues for Ford Fry’s Highly Anticipated Nashville Projects

Projected summer 2019 opening for Ford Fry’s Nashville trio

Ford Fry
Dustin Chambers

Atlanta-based chef and restaurant empire owner Ford Fry now targets a summer 2019 opening for his trio of Nashville’s Hammer Mill projects at 1400 Adams Street. While the projects have been in the works since 2016, the plans were revealed in February of 2018. Fry’s three forthcoming connected Germantown-bound destinations include self-described fish camp The Optimist (a name update from formerly coined Sea Wolf), cocktail lounge Le Loup, and listening room slash taqueria Star Rover.

Joining the Optimist team are executive chef Ryder Zetts and beverage leader Tracy Ardoin-Jenkins. Zetts is a native of the south who spent time in California and shares Fry’s passion for real, no-frills cookery, and wood-grilled technique incorporating southern-sourced ingredients. Classically trained, French pastry chef turned bar master, Ardoin-Jenkins has spent over a decade around Nashville at acclaimed spots including Rolf and Daughters and Nicky’s Coal Fired. Ardoin-Jenkins will work with Ford Fry Restaurants’ beverage director Eduardo Porto-Carreiro to conceptualize lists that complement the Optimist, Le Loup, and Star Rover experiences.

If the Optimist sounds familiar, that’s because it’s a Nashville outpost of one of Fry’s popular Atlanta restaurants. The team says it won’t be a replica, but Music City’s interpretation of the six-year-old seafood-focused Atlanta restaurant with an upstairs oyster bar, open kitchen, and indoor and outdoor wood-burning fireplaces in the historic industrial building.

Le Loup is the adjoining cocktail lounge, prime for pre- and post- dinner imbibing. The lounge will serve food as well, like ice cold or roasted oysters and seafood plateaux.

Just off the Optimist’s main dining room is Star Rover, which plans to host new and old local talent in a honky-tonk meets taqueria type atmosphere with Texas-inspired snacks.