The Nations is on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Some are enticed by the low(er) home prices; some are enamored with historic buildings being revitalized; some are seeking out delicious dishes at the new restaurants; and some simply can’t swallow the growth the neighborhood has seen. In 2015, we called The Nations Nashville’s newest hottest neighborhood, and while it may no longer be the newest, it remains one of the hottest. Since giving it this label nearly three years ago, the neighborhood has continued to evolve with new homes and new businesses, and locals and tourists alike continue to visit to simply see what all the buzz about The Nations is all about.
In early summer 2015, Fifty-First Kitchen & Bar had just opened, more than 400 homes were under construction, and The Mill was the first boutique to bring fashion to The Nations. Since that time, 11 restaurants and coffee shops have joined the mix, and two fashion retailers round out the options of places to shop. And this is only the beginning.
In the fall of 2016, Three Corners Coffee took the title of the first coffee shop in the neighborhood, and two notable businesses assumed their positions in Stocking 51. Formerly home to the Belle Meade Hosiery Mill, the building dates back to 1925, and it has been meticulously restored into a mixed-use space. Vintage South Development is responsible for reinventing the structure that sits at the northeast corner of 51st Avenue and Centennial Boulevard. Now with four tenants, Stocking 51 was first home to ABLE and Nicky’s Coal Fired, which both opened in December of 2016. ABLE is a social enterprise most known for their leather bags. With Barrett Ward at the helm, the company is effecting change while giving a voice to those so deeply impacted by poverty. Women from seven countries are employed by ABLE, and the line has expanded from scarves and bags to include jewelry, shoes and clothing. The store is just as beautiful as the products it carries — the original bones of the warehouse foster an open, bright ambiance that mimics the minimalist designs of ABLE. Take a peek inside ABLE’s flagship store, and learn the story behind the brand here.
Next door to ABLE, Nicky’s Coal Fired brings coal-fired pizza to The Nations. Tony and Caroline Galzin made a name for themselves with the opening of 51st Kitchen & Bar, which they sold before opening this pizza joint. Nicky’s is less formal, with an amiable atmosphere. The menu starts with antipasti items that offer something lighter, and often vegetarian. Housemade pasta rivals the coal-fired pizzas, which are divided on the menu by red and white. Don’t shy away from the red pizza with fennel sausage and bitter greens or the white pizza with clams and kale.
2017 started strong with the opening of The Nations Bar & Grill in January and The Hop Yard at Fat Bottom Brewing Co. in February. Offering two drinking and eating options in dissimilar environments, these spots are equally as popular. The Nations Bar & Grill is a neighborhood bar that gives you what you would expect from such a place: unassuming décor, a good burger and cold beer in a place where everybody knows your name. Not to say those things aren’t true at The Hop Yard. Fat Bottom Brewing Co. made the move from East Nashville to The Nations, and the beer is the same, but the space is much larger. Within the brewery’s newly acquired 33,000-square-foot space, they are producing quality beer, hosting events and offering a spot for folks to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Summer is the ideal time to visit the restaurant and bier garden, where you can try the latest releases in beer paired with elevated bar-style bites.
During the month of May, Guido Van Helten changed the character of the neighborhood’s landscape with the 200-foot-tall mural that he painted on an old grain silo. The Australian muralist was commissioned for the project, and he chose the subject himself, selecting Lee Estes to look out over the neighborhood. This was a fitting choice as Lee Estes has called The Nations home since the 1920s and is an active volunteer in the community. “It’s definitely a positive thing to commemorate people who have lived here for a long time,” Guido told Nashville Public Radio in this interview. “You know, why do people want to live here? Part of the reason is it’s a good community. It’s got a history. People like that when they move to a place.”
While Lee Estes reflects the history of the neighborhood, two children from the St. Luke’s Community House in The Nations were painted on the other side of the silo to reflect the neighborhood’s future.
Two more tenants joined Stocking 51. Project 615 opened in May and Frothy Monkey in August. Frothy Monkey boasts one of the more beautifully designed interiors we have seen in Nashville. The food is delicious, and the coffee is strong to boot. On any given day, you are likely to see families stopping in for breakfast, young professionals with their nose in their computers and everything in between. The coffee shop and restaurant is always bustling, and the lively atmosphere is contagious.
October brought the opening of two restaurants and bars, 51 North Taproom and The Original Corner Pub. The watering holes sit on 51st Avenue, which underwent a new design featuring bike lanes, on-street parking, a center turn lane and single lanes in each direction. The stretch between Alabama Avenue and Centennial Boulevard was completed in July of 2017. 51 North Taproom shares owners with its sister restaurant, 12 South Taproom. The menus share many similarities, and a large selection of beer is available at both. 51 North Taproom differs in that they serve liquor and specialty cocktails. We prefer this spot when the weather is warm and you can play a round or two of corn hole in the restaurant’s backyard. Corner Pub expanded from their Green Hills location to serve everything from beer and burgers to salads and cocktails.
Only a month later, Daddy’s Dogs starting serving gourmet hot dogs that are a far cry from the ballpark dogs of your childhood. These all-beef dogs come topped with the traditional mustard and kraut or the not-so-traditional cream cheese and sriracha — on fresh, locally made buns.
White Bison is the third coffee shop to open in The Nations, preceded by Three Corners Coffee and The Frothy Monkey. This brand recently expanded to Murfreesboro and Gallatin, and will be soon found in Franklin as well.. Stop by their Nations location to pick your brew and order something from the all-day breakfast menu before snagging a seat on the coffee shop’s open-air patio.
The newest kids on the block are Wesley Adams and Patrick Davidson of Bare Bones Butcher. On the tail end of the closing of Porter Road Butcher on Charlotte Avenue (a former employer of both Wesley and Patrick), they have found a niche with their boutique butcher shop. The selection includes quality dry-aged beef and heritage breed pork as well as fresh produce, cheeses, local eggs and dairy and regionally sourced pantry items. We are chomping at the bit to get inside and see for ourselves just what they have to offer. Perhaps we will stop in for this week’s groceries or a lunch of cheeseburgers and chili.
Who will join them in a 2018 opening in The Nations? We can’t wait to see!
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