UPDATE: After this story was initially published, a spokesman for Steve Smith — owner of Kid Rock’s Big A– Honky Tonk Rock N’ Roll Steakhouse and other Nashville businesses — responded to Billboard’s request for comment and said Smith’s Lower Broadway establishments were complying with the mayor’s orders.
“In cooperation with the Mayor’s office, Tootsie’s, Honky Tonk Central and Kid Rock’s Honky Tonk have closed to help protect public health. Rippy’s and The Diner will operate under the guidelines set forth for restaurants and take precautions to keep our staff and patrons safe. We hope to continue working with local officials to minimize the hardship this puts on our over 800 staff members and 300+ musicians. Visit us on social media platforms for news and updates.”
Kid Rock’s Big A– Honky Tonk Rock N’ Roll Steakhouse remained open, as did Tootsies Orchid Lounge, Rippy’s Honky Tonk, Honky Tonk Central and the Diner. All venues are owned by Steve Smith, who initially called the mayor’s request “unconstitutional.”
“We appreciate the efforts of Mayor Cooper to combat the COVID-19 virus, but unless there’s a statewide mandate that directs all bars and restaurants to be closed, the request made by Mayor Cooper is unconstitutional as he Is targeting a select group of businesses,” Smith says in a statement posted to social media. “In response, Tootsies Orchid Lounge, Rippy’s, Honky Tonk Central, Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk & Steakhouse and the Diner will continue to remain open to serve the public until such statewide mandate is issued from the Governor of Tennessee.”
Meanwhile, the mayor held a news conference on Monday afternoon where he laid out his plans for the city’s response strategy. “The bottom line is that we are making health decisions that are both in line and on the leading edge of best practices nationwide for the sake of protecting our community,” Cooper said. “The decision to declare public health emergency, temporarily close bars and place restrictions on restaurants in Davidson county are serious public health decisions. But, these are also short-term solutions that will make a tremendous long-term difference in flattening the curve and the spread of coronavirus in our community.”
Other businesses downtown including Luke Bryan’s Luke’s 32 Bridge, John Rich’s Redneck Riviera and City Winery Nashville immediately followed the request to suspend their operations until further notice and alerted patrons via social media and email on Monday.
So far, metro Nashville has 24 confirmed cases of COVID-19 virus, according to the public health director. The age range is from 11 to 73 with only one person currently hospitalized.
The news comes after several major tourist spots in Nashville were closed due to concerns over the coronavirus, including the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry. Additionally, the Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival previously scheduled for later this month in Music City has been postponed until later this year. Dan + Shay, Kenny Chesney and Blake Shelton all postponed their tours due to the coronavirus while the Houston Rodeo was also canceled. South by Southwest in Austin was canceled outright due to coronavirus. Check out a full, updating list of canceled and postponed events here.
— MNN (@MNNGov) March 16, 2020
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#UPDATE: Steve Smith, the owner of Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Rippy’s, Honky Tonk Central, Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk Steakhouse & The Diner, responds to @JohnCooper4Nash’s call for Broadway bars to close amid #COVID19 concerns. @WKRN pic.twitter.com/wpYpy6d19N
— Josh Breslow, REALTOR (@JoshBreslowTN) March 15, 2020