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How to support your local watering hole in Nashville

Mar 16, 2020

UPDATE: On Friday morning, Nashville health officials halted dine-in service at restaurants. Take-out orders, drive-thru service, curbside pickup, and delivery service are permitted. Here's an update.

Mayor Cooper‘s announcement that he was closing bars in Nashville as a result of the coronavirus epidemic quickly went viral among locals.

We have been hearing the same question from tons of bar owners: What do we do?

We recommend that you serve food and provide a safe environment for your customers.  If you have a decent food menu and loyal customers, become a restaurant in this time of need.

As Mayor Cooper said in his statement closing bars: “We are encouraging restaurants to remain open as both a measure of social wellbeing and because of their important role in helping to feed our community.”

No one has said you have to stop serving alcohol, you just need to sell 50 percent food to be open.

Loyal customers, take a break, run to your local watering hole and order up some grub with that cocktail. It may do your mental health some good, and Nashville’s hospitality industry -- bartenders, servers, cooks and business owners - could use your support.

All this buzz on social media makes us pine for the days of Marvin Gaye:

It took me by surprise I must say

When I found out yesterday

Don't you know that I heard it through the grapevine

Many folks have asked whether the city has the legal authority to take drastic action to close businesses. 

Although we have not done extensive research, we believe the city does have the authority.  For example, the Metro Health Department has the authority to close an unsafe food establishment. This is a routine power and does not require a state of emergency.

There is precedent for our thoughts about focusing on food service and serving the public need.

A court in Nashville found that Tennessee law is too vague to enforce a ban on guns in bars. Chancellor Bonnyman ruled that the distinction between restaurants and bars was unconstitutionally vague on November 6, 2009.

Make sure you understand and follow the rules: 

  • limit maximum seating to under 50 percent of your capacity
  • no more than 100 individuals, regardless of your capacity
  • no standing at bars
  • bars should be limited to 50 percent of the bar area seating
  • space out of tables for customers - think social distancing

Click here for Mayor Cooper’s statement and the Health Department order

There may be a silver lining from the Mayoral and Health Department's actions. Insurance typically does not cover losses from illness, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. With the state of emergency and specific closure order from the government, your losses may become insured. 

We encourage you to check with your insurance agent and hope to have more information on this front soon.

Stay tuned, serve lots of meals and be well.

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