Just six months after Mop/Broom Mess Hall’s anticipated arrival in Germantown, James Beard Award-winning chef RJ Cooper is moving in to transform the casual eatery into a to-be-announced venture.
Mop/Broom was started by a fellow JBA-winning chef, Tandy Wilson, who focuses on barbecue chicken at his Southern-styled restaurant (1300 3rd Avenue North). Cooper is already in the kitchen, having just kicked off a 10-day residency with plans to take over the restaurant entirely on Friday, March 1.
Cooper will maintain Mop/Broom’s current space and staff and reveal menu details for the “fresh new concept” soon, Cooper’s spokeswoman tells Eater.
Mop/Broom’s bright, open dining room sports an expansive bar and chef’s counter, alongside an outdoor patio featuring a vivid new mural painted by Nashville-based artist Nathan Brown. Wilson doubled down on Germantown last year with the down-home eatery, debuting in the former Kuchnia & Keller location just a few blocks from his Nashville staple City House.
Cooper was most recently cooking at Midtown’s modern American brasserie Henley and parted ways a year ago. Since then, the chef kept a relatively low profile, spent the summer at a pop-up on the East Coast in Ocean City, New Jersey — according to his Instagram account. Last fall he signed a lease to open a restaurant in a “secret location” in East Nashville.
Cooper made a name for himself in D.C., where he spent nearly two decades and picked up the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic in 2007 while running the kitchen at Vidalia.
He then went out on his own, running now-shuttered D.C.-area restaurants Rogue24 and Gypsy Soul. Prior to coming to Nashville in 2017, Cooper had brief stints running various kitchens in Charlotte and Atlanta.
In Atlanta, he served under Guenter Seeger at The Dining Room at The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead and Gilbert Le Coze at Brasserie Le Coze. He’s also worked with Eric Ripert at Le Bernardin in New York City.