We set out to explore the stretch of Eighth Avenue South that runs from the downtown I-65 overpass, across Wedgewood and continues south until you can hang a left on Kirkwood. This area, known as Eighth Avenue South and Melrose, is home to more than meets the eye. It is likely that many of you have picked up a gently loved record at Grimey’s, discovered a gem at the Eighth Avenue Antique Mall, caught a show at Douglas Corner Cafe or The Sutler (back when Johnny Potts was the owner) or heard side-splitting comedy at Zanies. These are the establishments that have dotted Eighth Avenue and Franklin Pike since as far back as the ’70s and quickly became mainstays in the area. Today, though, those are just the tip of the iceberg, with countless new options to explore in terms of shopping, dining and living
“There’s always been an entertainment component to the Melrose neighborhood and the Eighth Avenue corridor. People who have been in Nashville long enough love this area for the decades of history. People newer to the city are discovering it as part of a massive arts, dining and urban living revival,” says Austin Ray, a Nashville native who is responsible for M.L Rose, The Sutler Saloon and partner in Sinema restaurant.
There is no better place to see the growth and history than by taking a closer look at local businesses in the area. Today, we look to the Eighth Avenue South and Melrose neighborhoods to showcase where to shop, where to play, where to eat and where to live.
Where to Shop
Fashion is a category sometimes overshadowed by the large array of home stores in this neighborhood. But, the fashion options are pretty fabulous. The go-to spots are Flip, a luxury consignment shop for menswear and womenswear, hatWRKS’s custom hat shop and The Showroom (think Rent the Runway but local). Each brings something different to the retail landscape in Nashville and you need to check them out!
And as mentioned, the opportunity to discover home goods and furniture is ripe. Dozens of stores (such as Remix Furniture Consignment, Bliss Home, Preservation Station, The Velvet Shoestring, 8th Avenue Antique Mall, Classic Modern, Pre to Post Modern, Dealer’s Choice Antiques, Karmal Skillington and Pia’s Antiques) offer new and used furniture. These stores bring collectors of all kinds looking to hunt for fine antiques as well as uncommon findings.
Where to Play
Melrose Lanes, Chandler’s Melrose Billiards (which is set to close at the end of September but will re-open under new ownership in October) and the Melrose Theatre were once the go-to spots for entertainment in these neighborhoods. But while these establishments have closed their doors, there were just as many that kept their doors wide open. In 1987, Douglas Corner Cafe opened on Eighth Avenue and quickly became home for Nashville’s new and rising singers and songwriters. In 2016, the venue continues to invite musicians to the stage to showcase their talent. Additionally, The Basement and Grimey’s New & Pre-Loved Music bring music lovers to the area (both of which are co-owned by Mike Grimes). Down the road, The Sulter Saloon was — and is again — another spot to catch a note-worthy act. When looking beyond music, look no farther than Zanies Comedy Club. We have Rich Uchwat to thank for continuing the reign of comedy in Nashville — one said to have been started by Steve Martin at Exit/In — by opening this club in 1983. Upon walking through Zanies’ doors, the pictures of past performers that line the walls illustrates the rich history this venue holds.
Where to Eat
There came a time when Eighth Avenue South was more strongly revered for its selection of fast food and chain restaurants than local eateries, but that is no longer the case. Establishments, including The Urban Juicer, Frothy Monkey, Love Peace & Pho, Eighth and Roast, The Hook and Smiling Elephant add variety to the neighborhood. Instead of opting for a Big Mac and fries, you now can indulge in a fresh-pressed juice, hot cup of coffee and breakfast, Vietnamese cuisine, sandwiches, an espresso or seafood.
In Melrose, as the road turns from Eighth Avenue to Franklin Pike, more restaurants continue to line the streets. Some of the local establishments, such as Bolton’s Spicy Chicken and Fish and Athen’s Family Restaurant, have been serving the area for more than a decade — or nearly that as is the case of M.L. Rose Craft Beer & Burgers. But more recently, the hot chicken joint and Greek eatery have been joined by Koi Sushi & Thai, Mangia, Fenwick’s 300, Sinema and the newly reopened The Sutler Saloon.
Where to Live
These neighborhoods are no stranger to development, and with the arrival of new businesses, comes the arrival of new living options. Lofts on Eighth, 23Hundred at Berry Hill and The Melrose offer condo and apartment living. Additionally, new town homes are popping up, and older houses are seeing renovations.
Whether you get to call the Eighth Avenue/Melrose area home or are simply looking to explore another amazing area of Nashville, this community has something to offer all.