Nashville chefs and restaurant owners have faced difficult decisions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which fell on the heels of the tornado devastation here in early March. While some have shifted to takeout and delivery, and others are still choosing to remain closed temporarily, there have been several Nashville restaurants that will not reopen at all. Below are some of the places that closed for good over the past couple of months; some had other reasons besides the impact from the coronavirus, although it was still a major contributing factor.
These closures are likely to mount in the coming months as restaurant owners face ongoing rent and utility payments and weigh the effects of only being allowed to open at half-capacity.
Below, Eater is cataloging permanent restaurant closures in Nashville. If you know of a restaurant, bar, or other food establishment that has permanently closed since the start of the pandemic, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We will continue to update this post.
After 15 years as a neighborhood staple in East Nashville, Eastland Cafe is closing its doors on January 23, 2021, according to a note plastered on its door. The note, posted to social media, thanks patrons and employees for their loyalty throughout the years. See the full (albeit blurry) photo of the note below.
After two years total in business and just a few months in the kitchen and dining space at VanDyke Bed & Beverage in East Nashville, Setsun’s owner Jason Zygmont posted to Instagram Friday that the final day of service will be January 23. Go in, drink some wine, and feast on ricotta agnolotti while you still can. “I started Setsun nearly two years ago, trying to create the type of restaurant that I wanted to go to. Something I thought Nashville was missing. Our goal was to create a warm, inviting environment that served approachable, delicious food, and natural, low intervention wine. To those goals, I believe we succeeded. Unfortunately, we ran headfirst into a tornado and then Covid. I hope y’all will join us for our last 2 weeks of service and send us off in style,” said Zygmont. See the full post below.
According to the Nashville Scene, the team at Vandyke is figuring out next steps as far as what’s next, foodwise. Eduardo Badillo and Setsun’s CDC Brad Webb, who took over when Zygmont relocated to Texas over the summer, will continue Badillo’s Mexican street food pop-up DFeño on Tuesday nights in the interim. Zygmont said he plans to return to Nashville to cook for Setsun’s final night.
After over seven years in business, ZolliKoffee in the Gulch is the next COVID-19-related restaurant closure. An article in the Nashville Scene said that the neigbhorhood coffee spot, owned by (and named after) Zollie Wilson, never recovered after an already slow winter followed by the COVID-19 shutdown. The final day of business will be September 30.
Mewsic Kitty Cafe: Nashville and also Tennessee’s first ever cat cafe, located at 2519 Nolensville Pike, posted on social media that its final day of business will be September 30 thanks to a drastic drop in business due to COVID-19. Until then, the cafe’s remaining adoptable cats are still available for visits and the business will remain open. Owners Maegan and Thien Phan said they still hold out hope that someone will come forward to keep their feline-focused business open. Since Mewsic Kitty opened in 2018, two more cat cafes have opened in Middle Tennessee since Mewsic Kitty Cafe did: The Catio near Opry Mills and Catfeine Cat Cafe in Murfreesboro. Food and beverage options at the cat cafe include hot coffee and light snacks from Bongo Java plus Alley Cat Tea and Switters cold brew.
Demos’ downtown location is vacant with for sale signs plastered on the windows. An update from owners on Yelp in April said the location was closed temporarily due to COVID-19. Hendersonville, Lebanon, and Murfreesboro appear to still be open as usual. Open in Middle Tennessee since 1989, the menu is a large range of options including from steaks, chicken, and seafood, and twelve homemade spaghetti sauces.
Bar Otaku: Rumored for months during the COVID-19 shutdown to be closed for good — owner Sarah Gavigan confirmed as of today the Gulch izakaya’s time has come to an end. Several sources say the next tenant will be a Brooklyn-based Cajun restaurant. A statement from Gavigan says “As of today, July 30, Bar Otaku is permanently closed. We are thrilled to introduce you all to a new tenant we think Nashville is going to love. This project was a true labor of love, but we sold knowing that we can continue our work with Otaku Ramen and find new ways to continue to bring out American izakaya to our city. Thank you to everyone who supported us. We had a total blast.” Bar Otaku first opened in January of 2019.
Las Paletas: The 12 South destination for paletas (a gourmet Mexican frozen treat) posted on Instagram yesterday that they are “pausing” and selling the two-story building —which obviously means they’ll be closed for the near furure. Founded by sisters Irma and Norma Paz, who grew up in Mexico, Las Paletas first opened in 2001 in the neighborhood and quickly developed a loyal following for fun flavors like creamy basil, strawberry chip, and avocado. An excerpt from the Instagram post reads: “as Nashville grows, it’s become more difficult for all small businesses to operate; increased competition and costs have forced many to close. We are fortunate that we were able to purchase our property years ago and thus had an opportunity for a positive exit that many others don’t. Selling this building means the end of our third chapter on 12th South yet may not be the end of our story. This was our third location on this street, in this neighborhood where we both live. We don’t know what’s next for our operation. Yet we’re ready for a pause.”
The Green Pheasant: Eater Nashville’s 2019 Design of the Year and downtown izakaya the Green Pheasant will not be reopening following the pandemic-forced closure, according to the Nashville Scene. The obvious downturn in tourism, the neighboring amphitheater’s cancellation of concerts, and lack of downtown business traffic as people work from home, are all reasons for the closure, owner Jess Benefield told the scene. The group’s first Nashville restaurant, Two Ten Jack, remains open for takeout on the East side.
Marche Artisan Foods: The European-inspired brunch cafe announced via Facebook on June 2 that they would not be reopening. Between tornado damage and the continued effects of COVID-19, Marche’s owner Margot McCormack says without 100% occupancy and inability to shift to takeout, they’ll lose revenue. However, fans of the go-to brunch destination can look forward to something — as Margot transitions to all-day cafe, serving the peach ricotta tartines, French toast and cafe au lait diners know and love.
Nama Sushi (Nashville and Brentwood locations)
Tokyo Japanese Steakhouse: The Green Hills Hibachi mainstay has closed. The restaurant has been at the Cleghorn Avenue location since 2012 (in the former home of much missed La Paz). An tipster reports that owners chose earlier in the year not to renew the lease.
Sukho Thai: An Eater reader reports that the Opryland Hotel area (located at 2450 Music Valley Drive) restaurant has closed.
Aladdin’s Hookah Bar & Lounge
Antonios’ of Nashville: The Bellevue go-to for Italian has sold everything via an online auction.
Charcoal Cowboys BBQ: The barbecue restaurant announced via Facebook that its last day in the brick-and-mortar location was May 17. Catering operations will continue. “We have truly appreciated the love and support provided to our family over the last 2 years and we are grateful for the lasting friendships and all the great employees that have become part of our family.”
Freebirds (Green Hills and Murfreesboro locations)
The Garden Brunch Cafe: the brunch-specific restaurant posted on Facebook yesterday “We want to thank everyone who has supported the Garden Brunch Cafe throughout our 11year run. It has been a pleasure to serve Nashville! We were honored to be a part of such a wonderful and beautiful city. We are Nashville Strong so even though we are closing permanently, we are so blessed to have been a part of this city! We will continue to pray for our great city and we will always keep this experience in our hearts. Thank you Nashville!”
Molinari’s Italian Restaurant Cool Springs
Sea Salt: The downtown restaurant’s owners announced they won’t be reopening in social media posts, but say they’re looking for a new location in the suburbs — one that will be less reliant on tourists for business.
Shalimar Fine Indian Cuisine: The Green Hills neighborhood Indian restaurant posted to Facebook that its last day will be May 26. The restaurant owners are offering all restaurant equipment for sale and welcoming BYOB patio dining until May 26. They say they do eventually hope to open again, if the financial blow can be recovered. “Our small family restaurant has been around for 30 years in Green Hills has seen Nashville grow through many ups and downs. We’ve recently been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and there is also a need to expand the intersection next to which we are located. Due to these pressures, we have made the decision to close our doors at the end of this month. We will still be serving Nashville up until we close on May 26th. We are humbly appreciative of the love Nashville has shown us and the thousands of loyal customers that are like family to us. You have made Shalimar Restaurant a pillar of the community in Nashville and we hope to serve you once again in the future.”
Vittles Restaurant Brentwood
Cafe Coco: The beloved Midtown late night dining hang closed then reopened as a new Italian Market - Coco’s Italian Market & Cafe. They now serve fresh and frozen lasagnas, pizzas, breads, desserts, and family meals.
Murff’s Craft Brews & Burgers
Music City Chicken Company
Rudie’s Seafood & Sausage: The East Nashville neighborhood oyster destination made the decision early in the shutdown to close its doors. A brief Facebook post only read “We’re closed. Loved serving you for the last 6 years. Wish we could still do it today.” While the restaurant is now closed, they are now offering some of chef’s James’ take-and-bake meals (and swag) for sale over at East Nashville’s Mitchell Deli.
Silo: closed due to tornado damage: