East Side Buzz: KOKOS To-Go is open, Walden bar is coming, Sing Me Back Home, Folk's pizza and lots more

Big one this week, with lots of food. So let's just dig in to the latest East Nashville news:

KOKOS To-Go has arrived in East Nashville

Back in August, we mentioned that local sweet-treats brand KOKOS Ice Cream was working on its first brick-and-mortar location, right here on the East Side.
As it happens, with the snow came the ice cream: The KOKOS To-Go Shop has officially opened its doors at 729 Porter Road, serving dairy-free/vegan, nut-free, “crazy delicious” artisan ice cream, crafted with a coconut milk base.
For starters, KOKOS visitors can grab to-go cups of the first round of winter flavors — Holy Chocolate, Peppermint Candy, Vanilla Cherry Bomb and Orange Ginger Snap — along with chocolate-robed vanilla KOKOS pops, during limited winter hours: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.
But that’s just setting the stage for the new brand, led by partners/A Man & A Woman bandmates Sam Brooker and Jerusa van Lith, who initially launched KOKOS on an even more to-go level: by popping up around town on a cute and crafty ice cream bike.
“It was an affordable stepping stone, and a way to enter the market and say, ‘We’re here,’” Brooker says of KOKOS’ home on wheels, which started hitting the streets last March. “We decided just to start: Let’s do the bike, let’s get out on the street, let’s see what people say and do a little market research. And the feedback was so good, and people were so happy.”
KOKOS’ first happy customer: Brooker himself, whose dairy intolerance left him with a sans-ice cream lifestyle. Van Lith — an Amsterdam native who relocated to Nashville about a year ago — was the first to suggest he test out the coconut-based stuff already on the market.
“We went to the grocery store to get some,” he says, “and it felt really good to eat ice cream. But it wasn’t that great. So we got to talking…” 
A “weird convergence of conversation and creativity” led to the two putting their heads and skills together — Brooker, a onetime genetic research lab brain; van Lith, who excelled at branding back in Europe — to hone a better non-dairy formula and a brand that beamed “ice cream for everyone.”
After a “super obsessive” period of experimentation — informed by gelato techniques van Lith got to know traveling in Europe, and hard ice cream techniques popular here — the two landed on the KOKOS recipe, named for the Dutch term that means, essentially, coconut flavor.
“The biggest compliment we get is, “How do you get it so creamy?’ We can’t tell you,” Brooker says, laughing, “but it’s all proportions.”
As the to-go shop gets up and going, Brooker and van Lith are also working on the next KOKOS steps — they’ll expand hours and flavors come spring, and the ice cream bike should be out around town four days a week. KOKOS is popping up in other local restaurants and shops, too — Graze and Soda Parlor here in East Nashville were early adopters. When they find the right space, a sit-down KOKOS scoop shop in Nashville, and a sister location in Amsterdam, are the next big steps (though, timeline-wise, both are yet-undetermined steps).
“This year, you’re gonna see a lot of KOKOS,” Brooker says.
To learn more — and to keep up with shop hours as they branch out — visit kokosicecream.com, and follow KOKOS Ice Cream on Facebook and Instagram

Walden bar opening in former Hop Stop space

We dropped this on the blog earlier this week, but in case you missed it: 
“Things do not change; we change,” Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden. Hate to argue with Thoreau, but stuff’s a-changing too — like the old Hop Stop space in East Nashville, which, come March, is set to open as a new bar concept: Walden.
New owners Robyn Donnelly and Katie MacLachlan announced details about the new East Side drinks spot this week, saying their aim is to create an environment that encourages patrons to simplify, simplify, setting down their smartphones to sit, drink and be in the moment.
“Walden will be a place that feels as familiar and accessible as a dive bar, while having the service and selection of a high-end spot,” Donnelly said in a release.
The bar, at 2909B Gallatin Pike, has a lot more of Walden’s live-deliberately sensibility, too, with murals adorning the interior and exterior that were inspired by Walden Pond plants the author described in his famous tome. (Local Honey stylist Tarabella Aversa is designing/painting them.) Throughout, we can expect a decor that embraces warm wood tones and greenery, plus a pet-friendly patio with seating outside.
“We want to bring the outside in and vice versa for this concept,” MacLachlan said.
As for the menu, affordability is a big focus, with an array of on-tap beers planned, plus wine and cocktails, for under $10. Food offerings will be shareable (they said we should think “adult Lunchables”), and late-night/light-brunch menus should be coming in toward the middle of the year.
Donnelly and MacLachlan come from a business strategy/customer service background — they also lead business coaching company Crush it Harder — and they plan to bring that influence into Walden too, expanding their already-going Crush it Nash events series with more programming, from classes to neighborhood events.   
To keep up with the latest Walden announcements/opening news, visit waldenbar.com and/or follow @waldenbar on Instagram and Facebook.

Rolf and Daughters chief readies Folk

Eater Nashville dropped details on the long-talked-about new East Nashville spot from Rolf and Daughters chief Philip Krajeck (above, center): Folk, a restaurant/bar with a pizza personality, due to open in March at 823 Meridian Street.
Krajeck’s rustic Italian spot in Germantown earned him a big food-scene profile here in Nashville (and beyond, including multiple James Beard award nods), but he told Eater we shouldn’t expect a Rolf-and-his-East-Side-daughters thing — aside of applying the careful approach they take with pasta over at Rolf’s to pizza at Folk, this’ll be “its own thing,” he said.
Words thrown about re: Folk’s pizza production: “authentic,” “wood-fired,” “flavorful,” “easy for people to digest.” 
Eater says they’ll start with dinner only, with brunch expansion plans in the works, and that we can expect some seafood and house-cured meats on the menu too, plus a classic cocktails and wines program, led by Rolf’s Shane O’Brien.
For more about the new McFerrin Park restaurant, stop by nashville.eater.com.

‘Sing Me Back Home’ celebrates legends we lost

On Saturday, Jan. 20, East Nashville fest organizer Libby Rose hosts a benefit show, "Sing Me Back Home,” to celebrate the lives of musical legends we lost in 2017.
On the Basement East stage that night, Bobby Bare Jr., Becca Mancari, Tristen, Langhorne Slim, Hayes Carll, Nicole Atkins and a host of other local talents will perform songs from icons and inspirations including Tom Petty, Chuck Berry, Chris Cornell, Charles Bradley, Fats Domino, Greg Allman/Butch Trucks, Jessi Zazu of Those Darlins, Goldy McJohn of Steppenwolf, Glen Campbell, Geoff Nicholls of Black Sabbath, Grant Hart of Hüsker Dü and J Geils.
Along with being a celebration of enduring music and the people who created it, Sing Me Back Home is a fundraiser for a great cause — Rose partnered with a charity called the Polaris Project, which is working to end human trafficking. All of the proceeds from ticket sales will go support their work.
That night will also include a raffle (with prizes including gift certificates from local businesses like Barista Parlor, Butcher & Bee, Third Man Records and others), aimed at raising additional funds for the non-profit.
We’re thrilled to be sending two pairs of lucky East Nashville readers to the show as our guests (we’ll choose and announce random winners on Friday at noon), but you can also grab your tickets to make sure you’re in the house. Admission is $8 in advance, $10 day of, and there’s more info on The Basement East’s website.

Atomic Nashville welcomes us into The Kitchen

Lots of exciting changes over at East Nashville books/music/art shop Atomic Nashville: Now that owner Dan Balog and Co. are firmly settled in their new digs at 118 S. 11th Street, they’re welcoming visitors into The Kitchen, a low-key acoustic listening room located in the shop, and launching on Saturday, Jan. 20 with a pretty serious first show.
The aptly named space (it's the actual kitchen in the historic house that Atomic Nashville now calls home) starts its run at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, with Suzie Brown opening for special guest/American Idol alum Crystal Bowersox. The “extremely intimate” space only seats about 18 to 20 listeners, and admission is first-come-first-served (but Balog tells us those who don’t make the cut can still stand just outside and listen).
Grammy-winning songwriter, children's book author, filmmaker and East Nashvillian Scot Sax is booking Kitchen shows, and lots of other familiar names are on the books for future shows, including Anne McCue (who recently appeared in our pages) and Tim Easton (who just shared his Alaskan chronicles with us).
If, generally speaking, it’s too loud/you’re too old, The Kitchen at Atomic Nashville might well be your new favorite venue: Theirs is a “no microphones, no speakers, no Internet” approach meant to put the focus on the people in the room.
To learn more/keep up with performance announcements, follow The Kitchen at Atomic Nashville on Facebook


— This was held up due to our snow-thanks weather, so a fresh date: Free chance to check out new East Nashville float center and alternative therapy spa Float Horizen. This Saturday, Jan. 20, they’re hosting a free 45-minute Introduction Harmonic Meditation Workshop, starting at 1:45 p.m. Call 615-490-8656 to sign up. 
— For fans of author Meera Lee Patel (Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration, the new My Friend Fear): She’ll be at Her Bookshop for a Happy Hour on Friday, Jan. 26, from 5 to 7 p.m. 
— Also coming up at Her Bookshop: The third Sunday Salon on January 28 has writer/educator/storyteller Megan Stielstra in the house, talking about (and reading from) her most recent essay collection, The Wrong Way to Save Your Life. It’s free, there’s wine, and it kicks off at 4 p.m.
That’s it for this week. Have news tips to share? Please email Nicole.

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