In May 2010, when the rain came through Nashville and the historic floods took out neighborhoods, businesses and homes, a long-standing restaurant located at Rock Harbor Marina, Blue Moon Waterfront Grille, took a beating. Three years after the restaurant’s demise from the flood, ten partners came together to revive this waterside restaurant and bar, which is back and better than ever.
Originally named Jack’s Shack, the former Blue Moon building leaned a little to the left and served nothing more than cold beer. After three incarnations, the destruction of the flood and three years spent dormant, Blue Moon Waterfront Grille was back open for business with nods to the past alongside a whole new menu, staff and structure. But one thing that has remained the same throughout each iteration is the waterfront view. The humid air of Nashville’s summer mingles with the cool breeze that comes off the Cumberland River’s water as you approach Rock Harbor Marina and Blue Moon Waterfront Grille. This is the feeling that keeps drawing folks away from the hustle and bustle of Music City to a waterfront spot where everyone is welcome. Patrons drive the 20 minutes from downtown Nashville, leave their cars and cross the floating bridge while donning suits, khaki pants and dresses as boaters dock their boats and stop in wearing flip-flops, tank tops and shorts. And they are all coming for the same thing: Davidson County’s only true waterfront restaurant.
“It is where food and fun meet water’s edge,” says Joel Sullivan, one of Blue Moon’s partners, with a smile on his face. “The ambience is the defining factor, but is amplified by the food and service.”
Open from mid-March through the middle to end of October, Blue Moon transports patrons to the likes of Charleston’s or Beaufort’s marinas as you watch paddleboarders (Paddle Up is Blue Moon’s next door neighbor), fishers and boaters pass by. As you very well know, there is nowhere better to be on a balmy Nashville day than waterside with a cocktail.
Chef David Billings, referred to by Joel as “the wizard behind the curtain,” is to thank for the seafood-heavy menu that blends modern American and Caribbean influences. “We kept the signature items, such as the coconut fried shrimp and the grit cakes, but have allowed the menu to morph over time,” Dougie Ray, partner and general manager, shares. You can find everything from tequila shrimp, mahi-mahi tacos and po’ boys to pork BBQ nachos, burgers and wings on the menu. And if you have any fond memories of Rainbow Key (a former restaurant off White Bridge Road), you will be pleased to find a few similar menu items. Glenn Smith, former owner of Rainbow Key and current partner at Blue Moon Waterfront Grille, recommends the coconut shrimp, jerk chicken and fish tacos, while Dougie insists you try the dessert. And if you can’t decide between the Mississippi mud pie and the Key lime pie, opt for the latter, or better yet, try them both.
Wednesdays and Fridays are packed with music lovers, and on weekends, the 175-seat restaurant is inundated with brunchgoers, but our favorite time to grab a seat in the open-air restaurant, drink in-hand, is as the sun sets over the Cumberland. “It is a spot where you can come and people know your name,” Dougie shares, and we agree. It is definitely a place where you can kick back, relax and soak in summer.
Blue Moon Waterfront Grille is located at 515 Basswood Ave., Nashville, TN, 37205. Hours are Monday through Thursday, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. To learn more, call (615) 356-6666 or click here.
Thanks to Leila Grossman of Grannis Photography for today’s beautiful photos!
Looking for more great patios? Check out our list of all the great spots around town!