It seems like every other day a new celebrity is trying to open a bar or restaurant on Nashville’s famous Lower Broadway.
Walk down the street and you’ll already see signs for bars owned by Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Blake Shelton, John Rich, Florida Georgia Line and Kid Rock. (Some of these are actually worth going into though – and I ranked them here).
Throw in places like Nashville Underground that are owned by Gavin DeGraw, and Broadway has quickly turned from honky tonk row to a corporate machine with bars that are all basically the same, packing in as many tourists as they can with generic food and mediocre country-tinged pop music.
Sorry if it sounds like I’m annoyed, but at this point, I am.
Well folks, it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be getting better any time soon. Because now Justin Timberlake is becoming the latest in a long line of celebrities to open an establishment on Nashville’s most famous street.
The Twelve Thirty Club, which will be located in the new Fifth + Broadway development across from Bridgestone Arena, is described as a “modern take on a classic supper club where dining, entertainment and design collide to make up the show.”
Yeah, I have no idea what that bullshit means.
According to the Nashville Business Journal, the new bar and restaurant is being opened by James Beard-award nominated chef Sam Fox, and will include Justin Timberlake as an investor who will “be involved in curating the music for the establishment.”
The first floor, which is set to open on April 14, will supposedly provide “an elevated honky tonk vibe featuring live music seven nights a week.”
An “elevated honky tonk vibe?” What the hell does that even mean? What’s wrong with some dark dive bar where my feet stick to the floor and I can drink flat beer while I’m listening to a band playing Waylon Jennings covers that will melt your face off? When is somebody going to open one of those?
The upstairs will feature a cocktail lounge, as well as a 400-person “supper club” for dining and live music where “dinner should last an entire evening.”
As if it wasn’t already hard enough to get a reservation in Nashville…
The venue will also have a rooftop terrace with outdoor fireplaces.
So tell me, how is this any different than any of the other 500 places in Nashville that have live music during dinner? How is this any better than a real honky tonk where I won’t have to spend $100 on a meal and drinks to hear some good live music? Or any of the 50 other bars on Broadway that have rooftops?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Timberlake. I like some of his more bluesy-sounding music, and his performance with Chris Stapleton at the 2015 CMA Awards is undeniably one of the highlights of the last 10 years in country music.
And I like that Timberlake seems to be committed to Nashville, with his joining the Music City Grand Prix ownership group, as well as his investment in a group looking to bring Major League Baseball to Nashville.
But it’s hard not to be a little disappointed in what Broadway has become: A caricature of everything that makes Nashville special, a tourist trap full of “trendy” bars and restaurants owned by big-name celebrities and country artists partnered with giant corporate groups.