At this point pretty much every country artist has their own bar in Nashville.
When Garth Brooks announced that he would be opening a bar on Broadway in downtown Music City, he joined a list of artists like Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, John Rich, Dierks Bentley, Florida Georgia Line, Miranda Lambert, Kid Rock, Alan Jackson…you get the idea.
And let’s face it: Most of these bars are pretty much the same anyway. For the vast majority of these artist-owned bars, there’s not a lot that really sets them apart from one another, other than whose name is on the front of the building.
“I’d love it to be a classic honky tonk. Cause country music to me has been so good to me.
And I want to hear, on lower Broadway in 2022, I want to hear King George coming out of that honky tonk. I want to hear Haggard coming out of that honky tonk.
And I don’t think that’s impossible to ask. But I also think you can play Luke Bryan in there, I think you can play Chesney in there, I think you can play Yearwood, McEntire, Dolly with the new group too, the Ashleys.
What’s coming out of those speakers… undeniably country music. So that’s what I’m hoping, I’m hoping this place is a thumpin’ place that always looks like something is going crazy in there. I like that.
But when you walk in, I hope it’s country music that you hear.”
So the Chick-fil-A of honky tonks, with a tiki bar theme, that plays Merle Haggard and George Strait. Got it.
But this week we got a little more detail about what’s going to be included when Garth finally opens Friends in Low Places. And his bar is going to have something no other bar on Broadway has: A Metro Nashville police station.
According to a press release from Nashville mayor John Cooper, a new Metro Nashville Police Department substation will be constructed by Garth at no cost to the city in the alleyway beside his bar, located at 411 Broadway in what used to be Downtown Sporting Club and before that, Paradise Park (RIP).
The development will also include a Nashville Department of Transportation control room to help reduce traffic on the busy street.
According to Mayor Cooper:
“Lower Broadway is an iconic destination for fans of world-class music, sports and a good time, but as Nashvillians know well, it can also create safety and traffic challenges that my office is working hard to tackle across multiple fronts.
I commend Garth Brooks for stepping up to help make Lower Broadway safer and more enjoyable for everyone. These additional resources will add new tools to reduce traffic and improve community safety downtown while continuing to prioritize other initiatives for neighborhoods and families throughout Davidson County.”
Since last year, the city has also started closing Broadway to traffic on weekend nights in an effort to reduce crowding on the sidewalks and prevent traffic congestion.
And over the past few years (especially since bars reopened after the COVID shutdown) Broadway has been busier than ever – and with that obviously comes an increase in crime, including some high-profile incidents like the bouncer at Lucky Bastard Saloon who took down a man who was pulling a gun on police.
Nashville police chief John Drake hopes that the new Garth Brooks “Friends in Low Police Station” (I’m trademarking that name before Garth does) helps police better control crowds – and crime – in the bustling honky tonk district:
“I am deeply grateful to Garth and his team for including space that will serve as a mini hub for our operations in the Broadway entertainment district.
This unique partnership will help enhance public safety for downtown residents and visitors.”
So if you’re planning on slipping on down to the Oasis and causing a big scene when somebody ruins your black-tie affair, just know that there’s a police station right next door.
Or maybe this is all part of Garth’s elaborate scheme to make sure he stays on the police department’s good side. Don’t want them asking too many questions about all those bodies…
— FRIENDS IN LOW PLACES BAR & HONKY-TONK (@FriendsBarNash) June 6, 2022
Eric Church To Open 6-Story Bar Called Chief’s In Nashville
Garth isn’t the only artist who’s got a new bar in the works on Broadway though.
Eric Church announced earlier this year that he’s opening a brand new, 6-story bar, BBQ restaurant and music venue called Chief’s in downtown Nashville.
The new venue will be located at 200 Broadway, in the building that formerly housed Cotton Eyed Joe, and will be right beside John Rich’s Redneck Riviera.
Church bought the building for $24.5 million from Rich along with Ben Weprin, founder of boutique venture capital firm AJ Capital Partners, which also owns the building housing the famous Exit/In music venue in Nashville and is best known for its chain of Graduate Hotels across the country.
He’s also bringing in a taste of his local Carolinas by partnering with famous BBQ chef Rodney Scott, the James Beard Award-winning pitmaster and founder of Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ, for the bar’s food program, which will be served from the rooftop and contain all-weather seating for visitors.
In announcing the project, Scott said he’s excited to bring his flair of BBQ to Music City:
“I am beyond excited to not only bring Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ to Music City, but to also partner with my good friends Eric and Ben on this project.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I love music – so the opportunity to expand the brand in partnership with an award-winning musician makes this project extra special! I can’t wait to share our Carolina roots and our whole hog BBQ with the incredible people of Nashville.”
And to set itself apart from the other artist bars in downtown Nashville, Chief’s plans to feature a two-story seated music venue that would be able to host ticketed live events. (A Chief concert at his own bar? Sign me the hell up).
In announcing his new venue, Church says Chief’s will reflect every step of his award-winning career:
“I remember driving through downtown Nashville over 20 years ago with a pawn shop guitar, riding shotgun in a beat-to-hell truck just trying to chase a dream.
Chief’s is the culmination of catching that dream. Like everything else we do in our career, I wouldn’t even attempt a project like this if I didn’t think it would be the best, so that’s what Chief’s will be: the best.
I am partnering with my closest friend and, in my opinion, the greatest hotel entrepreneur on earth, Ben Weprin, and the greatest barbecue chef in the world, Rodney Scott. Together we will create an experience unique to Nashville and absolutely unparalleled in the world of music, food, fellowship and entertainment.
This is my hometown. This is personal. This matters. Every detail of Chief’s will feel that way. I cannot wait to get started. See you in 2023.”
Nashville mayor John Cooper also praised the announcement, saying that Chief’s will play an important role in revitalizing the Second Avenue corridor, an area still recovering from the 2020 Christmas Day bombing:
“Bringing a seated music venue to Lower Broadway while revitalizing and preserving a historic building is exactly the kind of investment Nashville’s entertainment sector needs.
I thank the partners involved for keeping the character of the building while creating a new concept for locals and our visitors to enjoy.”
And his sentiment was echoed by Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. CEO Butch Spyridon:
“Pairing Eric’s talent and passion for music and his work ethic with a new restaurant, bar, performance hall and more downtown is a recipe for success.
The fact that he is doing this in a historic building that will transform the gateway to historic Second Avenue is truly a bonus as that street recovers from 2020’s unfortunate incident.”
Renovations have already begun on the building, with Chief’s set to open in 2023.