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As we’ve adjusted our daily routines and lifestyles to accommodate the pandemic, some of our favorite local restaurants and establishments have been doing the same, developing innovative ways to take their businesses to the next level. Here are six classic and beloved Nashville restaurants that are adapting … and giving us something new and exciting to experience or look forward to.

6 Beloved Nashville Restaurants Expand Their Concepts

Arnold’s Country Kitchen Opens “Arnold’s After Dark”

605 8th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203 • (615) 256-4455
Hours: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Nashville’s quintessential mom-and-pop “meat and three,” Arnold’s Country Kitchen has been a local hotspot for down-home cooking since the early 1980s, with one caveat: the restaurant was only open on weekdays. Though the Arnold family has been considering a nighttime and weekend expansion for quite some time, the pandemic gave them added incentive to take the leap. “We’ve always had people tell us that they want to come and eat but can’t make it down because of work,” says Rose Arnold Minchey of the Arnold family. “Or tourists want to come in, but they’re only in town on the weekend. The timing was never right for us because some of us had small children, and we didn’t want to miss out on their youth. Now, our children are older, and COVID happened. It gave us the final push to open more hours.”

Though they are still trying to recover from the financial hit they’ve taken over the past year, the Arnold family is putting a positive spin on their challenges by opening their doors for Arnold’s After Dark, a chance to experience the Arnold’s we know and love on a whole new level and with extended hours. “Guests can expect the same warm, inviting feeling with some added bonuses,” says Rose. “We now have a bar with an extensive bourbon selection, there are TVs for Preds and Titans games (gotta support the local teams!), and on Saturdays, we have live music with different local artists. It creates such a cool vibe.” Plus, you can anticipate a slightly different approach to your menu favorites and new additions such as crispy fried brisket tacos, brisket nachos, and hot chicken. Soon, Arnold’s will also start serving Sunday brunch, with dreamy 7-Up Pancakes that Rose insists will give every other pancake in town a run for its money. “We love this city, and we’re so grateful for its support over the years,” she says. “We hope always to remind people of that Southern charm when they visit us. We like to think of Nashville as a small town in a big city; when you walk in the door [here at Arnold’s], you know you are in Nashville.”

Brisket nachos at Arnold's After Dark

Arnold’s After Dark features new menu items such as these delicious crispy fried brisket tacos. Image: Kahlil Arnold 

RELATED: Where Nashville’s Newest Food Concepts Get Their Start

The Station Inn Makes its Way to The Country Music Hall of Fame

222 Rep. John Lewis Way S, Nashville, TN 37203 • (615) 416-2001
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Independent live music venue The Station Inn has been at the heart of some of Nashville’s greatest music since it was founded in 1974. With a history of hosting legends like John Prine, Alison Krauss, Vince Gill and Emmylou Harris, the esteemed venue is an important part of Music City’s country music and bluegrass legacy. In celebration of its late owner, JT Gray, The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum currently features an exhibit called “The Station Inn: Bluegrass Beacon,” which runs through January 2, 2022, and highlights stories and artifacts from The Station Inn that have contributed to Nashville’s artistry. “In this exhibit, we not only highlight musical milestones from the club’s nearly 50-year history, but we also call attention to people who made The Station Inn feel like home,” says Museum Senior Director Peter Cooper. “The Station Inn is an example of musical community-building in the most positive way.” Museum guests can expect to peruse instruments, photographs, posters, and other unique items that offer an in-depth look into the venue’s history. “The Station Inn is a special place and one that should be recognized,” says Peter.

Old cash register from the Station Inn

“The Station Inn: Bluegrass Beacon” spotlights artifacts such as this cash register that still features prices on everything from coffee to Corona. Image: Emma Delevante for The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Elliston Place Soda Shop Gets Bigger Digs

2105 Elliston Pl, Nashville, TN 37203 • (615)-327-1090
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

After 82 years in its Elliston Place location, Nashville’s classic institution Elliston Place Soda Shop is moving — next door. Two and a half times bigger than the original spot, the new space is on the ground floor of the old Cumberland Telephone Exchange building. “When Tony Giarratana heard the Elliston Place Soda Shop was about to go under, he stepped up and bought it to keep it from closing,” says Jim Myers, who’s on the shop’s management team. The newest iteration is reminiscent of the old with a lunch counter, tables and booths, the original hand-painted signs and wall-mounted jukeboxes, and a menu that’s chock full of the fan favorites that have kept the Soda Shop in business for so long. Plus, 28-year Soda Shop veteran Ms. Linda Melton (the famous “Pie Lady”) is still part of the management team.

Along with some nostalgic elements that remain, the Soda Shop boasts some elevated upgrades. “In addition to a classic meat-and-three repast, the Soda Shop will serve breakfast all day, burgers, sandwiches, soups and salads, and a full complement of soda fountain delights, including hand-spun milkshakes, malts and phosphates,” says Jim. “Some daily items, like fried chicken and turkey and dressing, will now be available every day.” Additionally, you can look forward to a selection of beer, wine, spirits, and boozy milkshakes. “The Soda Shop will also feature live music on Friday and Saturday evenings and during lunch on Saturday and Sunday,” Jim adds, “And we now have parking! We have 15 spots in our own lot and permission to use Krispy Kreme’s parking after 6 p.m.” We can’t wait for the grand reopening in May!

Exterior of Elliston Place Soda Shop

The Elliston Place Soda Shop now occupies the old Cumberland Telephone Exchange building. Image: David Bailey

RELATED: 12 New Restaurants in Nashville

Pancake Pantry Opens for Dinner

1796 21st Ave S, Nashville, TN 37212 • (615) 383-9333
Hours: Monday through Wednesday, 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Thursday through Sunday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The Pancake Pantry is, indisputably, one of Nashville’s most iconic restaurants. With 60 years under its belt of dishing up breakfast, the Hillsboro Village hotspot is a frequent go-to for tourists and locals alike. Despite its longstanding popularity, the pandemic posed its share of challenges, and the restaurant is creatively compensating — after decades of breakfast-only service, it’s now open for dinner Thursday through Sunday, too. Thankfully, you can still order from the traditional breakfast and lunch menus, which means you can still enjoy your favorite made-from-scratch buttermilk pancakes any time of day. You can also order Southern dinner staples like country-fried pork chops and meatloaf. One nostalgic factor that hasn’t changed? The restaurant still doesn’t accept reservations, so come hungry and expect to wait in line!

Exterior of the Pancake Pantry

After 60 years, The Pancake Pantry has added dinner to its repertoire. Image: Jenna Bratcher

Samurai Sushi Expands to the East Side

97 Chapel Ave, Nashville, TN 37206 
Hours: To be determined

Nashville sushi royalty for more than 20 years, Samurai Sushi has been serving up some of the best sushi rolls in town since before Music City’s recent boom. If you frequent the original location on Elliston Place, and you’ve heard about its closing, don’t fret — owner Yun Choo isn’t going anywhere. He’s simply relocating. “With the Elliston Place location closing after 20 years, I wanted to continue my business and passion in another location,” says Mr. Choo. “I found Samurai Sushi’s new home in East Nashville where Eastland Café used to be. The new location will open as Samurai Sushi East.” And while some may mourn the loss of 15-year staple Eastland Café, the idea of Mr. Choo taking over the space and making his way to the East Side is exciting!

So, what changes are ahead? “Guests can expect a fresh take on Samurai Sushi,” Mr. Choo says. “There will be a new menu available, and we are working with a sushi chef who has worked in Tokyo, Japan, and at Nobu in San Francisco. The tentative opening date is slated for this month. “Nashville has been so supportive of Samurai Sushi for 20 years, and I want to thank our community for the love,” says Mr. Choo. “I am excited for our next chapter in East Nashville and can’t wait to be a part of the community there.”

Exterior of the new Samurai Sushi in East Nashville

Slated to open soon, Samurai Sushi is taking up residence in the old Eastland Café location in East Nashville. Image: Jenna Bratcher

Belle Meade Historic Site and Winery Introduces Chef-Inspired Food Pairings

5025 Harding Pike, Nashville, TN 37205 • (615) 356-0501
Hours: Monday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

With its historic mansion, museum, tours, winery and restaurant, Belle Meade Historic Site and Winery has been finding new and improved ways to tell its narrative for years. The most recent addition to the program is The Rochford Loft for Culinary Arts, a space in the newly renovated Stable House that includes a modern demonstration kitchen and classroom space for 55 people. In it, guests can gather around a horseshoe-shaped table for chef-inspired food pairings that offer an elevated dining experience combined with notable Nashville history. While food and wine pairings may have started at the site in 2015, the new chef-inspired pairings are taking it to a new level. “For years, guests have come to Belle Meade to tour the house and hear the inclusive narrative of the people who collectively gave Belle Meade its story,” says Mark James, Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “Now, at least in the context of our chef-inspired food pairings, these stories are enhanced by the smell and taste of our wines, bourbons and chef-prepared food. Together, they create the opportunity to blend food and wine or bourbon with authentic history, a rare blend, indeed!” The chef-inspired pairings offer guests a chance to enjoy four small plates with seasonal ingredients, thoughtfully curated by Executive Chef Stephen Kruger. “We expect to continue offering all of [our pairings] as long as guests continue to support them,” adds Mark. If their current success is any indication of what’s to come, we suspect they’ll stick around for a long time!

Menu, entrée and a glass of wine from Belle Meade Historic Site and Winery

Belle Meade Historic Site and Winery hosts a four-course chef-inspired food and wine pairing in its newly renovated loft. Image: Mark James


If you’re feeling inspired to broaden your culinary horizons, check out even more of our local restaurant favorites!

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