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Checking in on Some of Nashville’s Most Anticipated Restaurant Openings During COVID-19

The wait continues for Trevor Moran’s Locust, banh mis on the East side of town, Belle Meade’s new bodega, and more

overhead shot of banh mi sandwich, close up on right side of a white plate .topped with shredded carrots, cilantro, and onions. East Side Banh Mi [Official Photo]

Opening a restaurant in Nashville right now is very different due to the novel coronavirus pandemic — and that’ll be the norm for a while.

Nashville has already welcomed several openings, including Sean Brock’s Joyland, a Music Row rooftop destination in Virgin Hotels Nashville’s The Pool Club, and the return (in a new location) of Setsun during the pandemic. The Optimist — one of Ford Fry’s Germantown trio recently opened — while the other two focused on bar and live music continue the wait, as do several other anticipated restaurants around town like Trevor Moran’s dumpling shop in 12 South, Locust.

Eater Nashville checked in with several highly anticipated restaurants that were set to open this year, to get a pulse check given the current COVID-19 climate. Of course as always, things are highly like to change as case numbers rise and fall and guidelines shift, so the best way to stay up to date is to follow these restaurants’ websites and social media handles. Have an exciting opening to add? Send us an email.

Here are the latest updates:

The Continental: Sean Brock’s new service-focused tribute to fine dining establishments of yesteryear is currently on track for a September opening on the ground floor of the upcoming Grand Hyatt at Nashville Yards. Look for table-side cart presentations of modern spins on classic dishes like crepes suzette and beef wellington.

East Side Banh Mi: Nashville gets an exciting new option for Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches and more this August. A family business from industry vets and chefs Gracie Nguyen and Chad Newton, the restaurant will open at 1000 Gallatin Avenue, serving Vietnamese sandwiches, salads, and bowls. They’re sourcing locally however they can, using Bear Creek Farm beef/pork, Gifford’s smoked bologna, vegetables from Bloomsbury Farm, and coffee from Nguyen Coffee Supply. In the meantime, check out their menu and socials for pop-ups (happening lately on Saturdays at Jackalope’s Wedgewood-Houston taproom).

Hearts Cafe: Posts on Instagram from the last few weeks show the Australian all-day cafe (from the owners of Attaboy) setting up shop in the former 1950s auto shop is coming “real soon.” Hearts is inspired by food and coffee of Melbourne — known for its coffee culture with more cafes per capita than anywhere else in the world. They’ll serve breakfast, brunch, and lunch — with “outstanding breakfasts” and egg-based dishes using locally-sourced produce. Lighter lunch options include salads, sandwiches, and healthy bowls, plus takes on classic Aussie dishes. Liquids served include coffee, juices, and smoothies, plus beer wine, cocktails, and spritzes. Owners promise a regular happy hour, too.

Le Loup: According to publicist, plans are to open “within the next couple of months”, but of course dates are loose based on the current climate. Le Loup is Atlanta-based chef and restaurateur Ford Fry’s cocktail lounge — at the top of the staircase from newly opened seafood star the Optimist. Le Loup will offer decadent snacks, like deep water oysters and variety of sea fare, plus classic smoked fish dip with “club” crackers, raclette-laced house “tots,” scallop crudo, and foie gras and duck liver parfait. Cocktails combine Japanese-style cocktail and ice culture with Southern hospitality. Guests can expect the menu to celebrate the classics with superlative ingredients, ranging from the famous 19th century predecessor of the martini, “the Martinez,” featuring gin, vermouth, maraschino, bitters, and lemon essence to a cheeky re-imagination of the 20th century guilty pleasure, the lychee martini.

Locust: Strategic Hospitality reports no updates on opening at this time, given the current climate — but passersby can see construction is moving right along. The highly anticipated Japanese-style shaved ice (kakigōri) and dumpling shop from former Catbird Seat chef Trevor Moran and Strategic Hospitality has been years in the making. People say the casual restaurant in the former Art & Soul building in 12 South will have a walk-up window and serve Moran’s beloved dumplings and kakigōri. While we all wait, follow along with Trevor’s Instagram.

The River House: Still awaiting updates on opening timeframe. The parent company of Midtown restaurant BrickTop’s will operate sister business The River House at the Bridgestone Tower in SoBro. River House will occupy the massive 7,300 square feet of space previously slated for the rebirth of Watermark.

Roze Pony: Still awaiting confirmation, but rumors say Julia Jaksic’s new Belle Meade market and cafe could open as soon as August. Roze Pony is Jaksic’s second restaurant in Nashville — she opened Cafe Roze in East Nashville in 2017. Setting up shop in the Belle Meade Galleria complex at 5133 Harding Pike, Roze Pony will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, alongside a fully stocked bar. It will also house a grab-and-go market, offering coffee, snacks for those on the run, and full-on family dinners for picking up and enjoying at home.

Star Rover Sound: According to publicist, opening is of course “really dependent on restrictions on live music venues” due to COVID-19 guidelines in Nashville. Star Rover Sound is the third piece of Ford Fry’s new Germantown dining, drinking, and live music trifecta. Just off the Optimist’s main dining room, Star Rover Sound will be a listening room and honky-tonk meets taqueria-inspired snack bar of sorts.Star Rover will serve a selection of bar snacks – notably the butter burger – a fan favorite at Fry’s La Lucha in Houston, Texas, chili cheese fries a la Superica, Tijuana-style street tacos, and churro soft serve. Visitors will experience different sounds of Nashville nightly with Wednesday’s blues, Americana tunes from Lauren Morrow Band on Thursday nights, rotating feature bands on Friday and Saturday, and jazz/bluegrass during Saturday/Sunday brunch.

White Limozeen: With further shutdowns in motion, owners of the Graduate Nashville haven’t confirmed an opening date yet for the super-glam indoor/outdoor Dolly Parton-inspired rooftop hang on West End. All anyone can say as of yet is hopefully July, for wading-pool-side with champagne jello shots, frozen Aperol spritzes, and more. Food-wise, White Limozeen will offer party foods and homestyle renditions of traditionally French presentations from CDC Chris Lewallen (previously at Nashville’s Bastion, Nicky’s Coal Fired, and Henley). Menu items include chicken liver pie, biscuits with caviar, mussels steamed in Nashville hot butter, and a white bread burger.