Imagine walking into a speakeasy built in 1879, with exposed brick walls, hardwood floors and three-foot metal orb chandeliers. Guests attending a rehearsal dinner, corporate reception or other special event can view the Cumberland River through tall, arching windows at the far end and walk out the front door to the must-see places of downtown Nashville.
The Quarter, located at 126 Second Ave. N., is the newest event space managed by Infinity Hospitality Group (IHG), which is co-owned by Nathaniel Beaver and Tabor Luckey and includes OZ Arts, The Bridge Building, The Harding House, The Bell Tower and 12th & Porter. The venue’s location in the French’s Boots building is a not-so-unheard-of location given Nathaniel’s Nashville upbringing. Rodney French of French’s Boots, who owns the building, already had a small event space on the third floor, but Rodney and Brad French, a high school friend of Nathaniel’s, asked him to manage the venue and help design a larger space. And thus, The Quarter founds its home.
Nathaniel began his career in hospitality at the age of 12, and by age 24, he owned Whitfield’s in Belle Meade. After opening several other restaurants, including Bria Bistro Italiano in Bellevue and The Harding House at Belle Meade Plantation, he advanced into private events.
“If someone calls to say, ‘I want to look at your event space,’ we can show them four or five spaces,” says Nathaniel. “The venue should be visually what clients want people to see when they show up. The goal of our company is to create a unique experience.”
The experience of being in The Quarter reflects a commitment to maintain essential structures in Nashville. The space occupies the third floor of the current French’s Boots building, the former T.M. DeMoss Building, which was the first on Second Avenue to have a hydraulic elevator and now is on the National Register of Historic Places. IHG has added modern touches to enhance the functionality of the space, which already naturally had “you-can-hear-the-band-and-your-neighbor” acoustics and visual charm, with pockets within the space that allow numerous possibilities for seated dinners and mix-and-mingle receptions. (Some clients prefer to expand their events to include the shopping space of French’s Boots.)
“In everything we do, it’s our mission, to preserve Nashville,” says Nathaniel. “We’re not coming down to Broadway or Second Avenue and tearing down buildings and rebuilding. You can’t turn a corner in Nashville without a building being torn down. Pretty soon, the only ones left are going to be the ones managed by Infinity.”
Additionally, Nathaniel says an evening in The Quarter “is not being in a hotel ballroom. If you’ve been to one event in a hotel ballroom, you’ve been to every event in a hotel ballroom. You could come to a hundred events in any one of our spaces, and not one of them will feel the same. I have nothing against that model, but we offer a different product.”
StyleBlueprint talked with Nathaniel prior to The Quarter’s open house. The menu included salted caramel bread pudding, pink pear crostini, ricotta sage meatballs, veggie banh mi, hot chicken bao and shrimp with charred corn salsa. “We are culinary people,” Nathaniel says, adding that ideally, he’d like to have each event come with its own distinctive menu.
“We don’t say, ‘Here’s our menu.’ We like to start there, but we like to do things that add character and uniqueness to the experience,” he adds.
Whether the occasion calls for finding a salt-and-pepper shaker or checking off dozens of details involved in the most special of days, Nathaniel says, “Our company’s built on the fact that we treat a two-top eating experience in our restaurant the same way we’d treat a wedding in our event space — different product, same idea.”
Clients who book The Quarter — or any of the IHG spaces — have an event specialist to walk them through every detail of their event, including planning, catering, marketing, logistics, food and beverage service, audio-visual and security (IHG has its own security division). One person on the IHG staff will manage every detail of an event: stationery and invitation lists, draping and lighting, entertainment and photography, valet and transportation, and unique bar packages and memorable fare.
“If you can think about it for an event, we provide those services,” Nathaniel says. “If you asked, ‘What’s the best thing you’ve done in the last five years?’ the answer is ‘Create a company that allows us to do that.’ I love that we’ve had the ability to create a company that didn’t exist in Nashville.”
The kinds of events held in The Quarter are “one-half social — weddings, rehearsal dinners and the like, and one-half corporate and non-profit,” says Nathaniel, and each has the goal of being an affair to remember with flawless (and stress-free) execution, especially because most of the events IHG manages are once-in-a-lifetime events — milestone birthdays, weddings, rehearsal dinners and similar occasions.
“Even for a corporate event, it may be for the biggest event in the client’s corporate life, may be the 50th anniversary for their law firm, or a maybe a big trip to Nashville. Some people do 50 of these events a year; most of them don’t.”
Whatever the event, Nathaniel says, “It’s about the vision the client has and giving them the guidance to make it even better.”
This article is sponsored by Infinity Hospitality Group.