Housekeeping before we dive in to this week’s crop of East Nashville news-y bits: We’re putting the pieces of our March/April issue together as we speak, but if you’d like to get an ad in its pages, there’s still time. Reach out to Lisa at email@example.com.
With that, we’ve got a lotta East Side Buzz to move through:
Mercy Lounge, Family Wash founders working on Madison Bowl revival
You might’ve heard some rumblings around town this week about a bowling alley up north a little and some familiar Nashville-venue faces. Notes on those rumblings: Yes, Mercy Lounge founder/former owner Chark Kinsolving and Family Wash founder Jamie Rubin are teaming up on a reimagination of the old Madison Bowl, at 517 Gallatin Pike N. But really, the duo of music-scene stalwarts was six weeks or so out from wanting to spill details, since the project, right now, is very much in its nascent stages.
Bag being freed of cat and all, though, Kinsolving and Rubin gave us a little insight into their vision for the future of that long-empty, charmingly retro bowling alley — and into how they were seeking the early attention about as much as they were seeking another venue to launch.
“I’ve been designing and building bars and venues for other people since I sold the Mercy Lounge (in 2013),” Kinsolving says. (His recent resume includes work at The Basement East, the Urban Cowboy Public House and Fox Bar and Cocktail Club.) “I really wasn’t looking to get back into something. But when that opportunity presented itself, I just started exploring.”
A little credit for that opportunity’s actual arrival goes to another Nashville nightlife entrepreneur, Andy Gaines of Mickey’s Tavern in East Nashville and Dee’s Country Cocktail Lounge in Madison. Kinsolving happened to share a wild vision he had for the old Madison Bowl — a combination bar/restaurant/bowling alley/venue — with Gaines.
“A week later, he sends me a text that says, ‘I met a guy who knows a guy who knows the guy who just bought the Madison bowling alley, and they’re looking for somebody to come in and do kind of a Brooklyn Bowl concept,'" Kinsolving says. "'You don’t know anybody that might wanna do that, do you?’ That was the text.”
The guy: Frank May, a real estate investor and fourth-generation Nashvillian who last year purchased the nearly four-acre property — built mid-century, and shuttered since since 2012 — with hopes of saving a historic space from the wrecking ball.
The concept Kinsolving and Rubin are now working on: a pretty lined-up match of Kinsolving's vision and May's hope, in the spirit of the well-known, New York-bred Brooklyn Bowl, but with local flavor.
Once lease negotiations are inked and renovations are wrapped, the renewed, nearly 29,000-square-foot Madison Bowl should have two bars (one a quieter lounge area, set off with windows and doors), a performance stage and around two dozen bowling lanes, with adjacent space that can serve as a dance floor and home to dining and pool tables and pinball games, depending on what’s on the schedule.
The schedule, music-wise, will be largely local, somewhat similar in spirit to the Family Wash’s roots, and at least at the beginning, focused on Thursday through Sunday shows. What it won’t be: another touring-circuit stop.
“I ran music venues for 12 years, dealing with national acts and being in that highly competitive Nashville thing,” Kinsolving says, “and I have zero desire to go back to that. Make that very plain. Zero.”
The food and drink should have something in common with the Wash’s early days too — a solid beer and wine selection, good well spirits and a few top-shelf choices, simple food on a honed-down menu, maybe a little bowling-alley fare like hot dogs, possibly some grilled items too.
“All that we’ll work out later,” Rubin says. “It’ll be basic, but like nothing else you can get up in Madison.”
Bowling will probably be standard, though they’re investigating candlepin and duckpin bowling too. Decor-wise, the duo’s aiming to stay true to the Bowl’s roots — if not its current status, so much.
“It looks like a spooky bowling alley that you’d film a horror movie in,” Kinsolving says, laughing.
“It got a renovation in probably 1980, ’81, so it’s all kind of Miami Vice-d out,” says Rubin, “It was built in 1960, so we’d rather keep that side of things for vibe, rather than Miami Vice.”
The iconic sign will stay, albeit with a color change, and everything’s getting freshened. But this Madison Bowl project is very much a renewal, not a rebuild.
“The idea is to keep everything pretty simple but comfortable,” Rubin says. “A good hang.”
If all goes as planned, the new Madison Bowl could be open around August. We’ll keep you updated as things progress.
Meantime, if you’d like to get to know the two partners better: Read more about Chark Kinsolving; read more about Jamie Rubin.
Slow Hand Coffee + Bakeshop, Pelican & Pig coming this spring
We dropped this earlier this week, but in case you missed it: The folks behind downtown spot Slow Hand Coffee are coming to East Nashville with a double-shot. This spring, owner Nick Guidry tells us, two new concepts should be opening here in the neighborhood: full-service restaurant Pelican & Pig, and Slow Hand Coffee + Bakeshop, a fleshed-out version of the original Slow Hand on 10th Ave. S.
“After learning a year ago of the sale of our current building downtown, we went on a six-month hunt for our future location,” Guidry says. His team found a home to suit both concepts: 1012 Gallatin Avenue, a building that once dealt mufflers on one side, auto glass on the other.
Guidry and Co. will be taking over the right side of the building; in-the-works “casual exotic hideout” Pearl Diver is expected to open on the left.
Guidry says the team’s working on both projects simultaneously, with Pelican & Pig in the middle unit in the building, the new Coffee + Bakeshop on the right.
At Pelican & Pig, diners will be ordering from a menu that centers around live wood/ember fire cooking, done in a raised brick grill onsite.
“Live fire will be utilized at its various stages from smoking and grilling meats over embers, to ash roasting vegetables and hearth-baking breads,” Guidry says. “Shareable sides will focus heavily on locally sourced, seasonal vegetables. We are committed to working with our local farmers and butchers to supply our meats, dairy and vegetables, and will continue baking all our breads, crackers and pastry items in-house.”
A “small and specialized” cocktail/beer and wine menu is also in the works, along with a dessert menu focused on “comforting classics and fun twists on old favorites.” Nick Guidry is leading the kitchen, with wife Audra Guidry, pastry pro at Slow Hand, continuing as executive pastry chef and front of house manager.
They’ll have dinner six nights a week, plus weekend brunch.
Slow Hand Coffee + Bakeshop, meanwhile, will have a lot of what downtown fans have come to love, just specialized in some cases, expanded in others.
Guidry says we should expect about triple the pastry selection at the new Slow Hand, plus a new preparation-focused coffee approach, with a pour-over bar and specific brewing methods focused on individual bean options.
Grab-and-go commuters will have options too, from quick-service coffee to wraps, biscuits and sandwiches. For Slow Hand Coffee + Bakeshop, they’ll have open hours every day of the week.
If you’d like to get to know our new neighbors better while they work on opening, follow Slow Hand Coffee on Facebook.
Gerst Haus closing
We were sad to hear this week that Gerst Haus, the longstanding German restaurant perched near the stadium, will be closing its doors as of February 10.
The restaurant has been serving hearty stuff like Kartoffelpfannkuchen and Rindergulasch and good old traditional steaming hot pig knuckles in Nashville since 1955, in a few different locations (including an original space downtown). East Nashville’s been home for decades (again, under several roofs), and although Gerst hasn’t lately garnered the loud buzz of some of the East Side’s newer eateries, it’s remained a favorite for many — particularly diners with a soft spot for meat and potatoes.
The Tennessean has a little more — but if you’d like to say your Gerst goodbyes, you’ll probably want to head by before Saturday’s end.
Gallatin Avenue SpaceMax opens
The former Walmart building on Gallatin Avenue near Douglas is quiet no more: The massive SpaceMax storage facility is now open, welcoming clients and their extra stuff with climate- and humidity-controlled units, from cozy lockers to 300-square-foot spaces to stuff with that stuff.
A few of the nice storage-space extras they’re offering: Renters can take advantage of a free van rental to get their belongings into the new space, and the facility also has a free conference room onsite, available for tenants, nonprofits and educators.
As we noted back in early 2017, storage space is just part of the equation on that property — which is easy enough to see if you drive up/down Gallatin past the ongoing construction. Almost 15,000 square feet of Class A retail space is coming too, perched in front of the SpaceMax facility. Nashville SpaceMax property manager Ray Peng tells us that’s probably still a month or so away from being done.
Listings are up with Southeast Venture for retail lease now (credit for the above rendering, too). We reached out about any tenant/opening news, and will update.
The Walmart Neighborhood Market that previously called that plot of land home closed in early 2016, as part of a nationwide location culling that included more than 150 other stores.
— This year’s first quarterly HENMA meeting and mixer, which’ll also include the East Nashvillians of the Year Awards Ceremony, is coming up on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at Eastside Heights (120 S 5th Street), 6 to 8 p.m. Bonuses: There’ll be a special performance from East Nashvillian cover star Jason Eskridge during the mixer portion, starting at 6, and The Mainstay will provide snacks. If you’re a member, come by and mingle. If you’re an East Nashville business owner and you’re not yet a member, this’ll be a good introduction to why becoming one is fun. (Read about the 2017 East Nashvillians of the Year here.)
— Refinery 29 has an interview with Becca Mancari, and a video for “Dirty Dishes.” (Related, we did a cover story recently on her other project, Bermuda Triangle.)
— The 2018 Blue Ribbon Teacher awards were just announced, honoring top teaching talent at Nashville Public Schools, and quite a few East Nashville educators were on the list. Among them: Jarred Amato and Martha Shaffer at Maplewood High, Elijah Ammen at Stratford High, Laura Baxter and Caitlin Talley at Nashville Classical and Alice Watts at Shwab Elementary. Congrats, teachers, and thank you for your dedicated work bringing smarts to our young neighbors. More at the Metro Nashville Public Schools website.
— The folk behind now-shuttered/much-missed East Nashville confectionery Chocolate F/X are back for a quick pop up, Saturday, Feb. 10, noon to 3 p.m. at Galena Garlic in the Shoppes on Fatherland. Valentine’s Day chocolate boxes will be in the house.
— The Science Guys’ annual free East Nashville Spectacular Science Shows are coming up: This Saturday, and on March 10 and April 14 at Shelby Bottoms. Science-y fun for all ages.
— On Sunday, local businesses are teaming up for Galentine’s on Gallatin, a celebration of (but not just for) women. Tattoos, tarot readings, shopping, mini boudoir sessions and more.
— Another Valentine-y event with local businesses: Saturday and Sunday, Chop Shop (1000 Main Street, Suite 105) hosts a pop-up with local artisans.
— February’s East Side Art Stumble is this Saturday, 6 to 10 p.m., at galleries and venues around the neighborhood.
— Congrats to Center 615, whose courtyard and rec hall ribbon cutting is next Thursday, Feb. 15, at 2 p.m.
That’s all for this week. Have any East Nashville news tips to share? Please email Nicole.