Nashville bars and honky tonks announce closure in order to combat coronavirus spread

Coronavirus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Several lower Broadway bars including a few that have fought to stay open will now close amid growing concerns of COVID-19 spread.

MORE: Health board orders all bars in Davidson County to close amid coronavirus outbreak

Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Kid Rock’s Big Honky Tonk and Steak House, and Honky Tonk Central will all close immediately to comply with a Metro Public Health order.

Steve Smith, owner of several bars and honky tonks on lower Broadway including Tootsie’s initially pushed back on the order from Nashville Mayor John Cooper saying that his establishments would not close without a state order from Governor Bill Lee.

Attorney for Smith, Bryan Lewis, says Smith decided late Monday to comply with Metro order and close.

MORE: Nashville’s Broadway bars react to mayor’s mandate to close

John Rich’s Redneck Riviera announced earlier Monday that they would also comply with the Metro order and close operations at 9 p.m. until further notice. Layla’s Honky Tonk closed shortly before 4 p.m. Monday.

City Winery, located on Lafayette Street in southeast Nashville, has also announced that they will comply with Metro order and close until further notice.

Lawyers for Loser’s Most Wanted Bar, Loser’s Bar & Grill Downtown, Winner’s Bar & Grill, and DawgHouse Saloon have advised their clients to abide by Metro directives to close, but released a statement saying they are ‘concerned’ that the directive is singling-out certain businesses:

While we understand the unprecedented efforts that are being made to promote social distancing as a mechanism to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we are concerned that the measures being taken by Metro arbitrarily single-out certain business based on alcohol sales, as opposed to applying a uniform policy equally to all food and beverage establishments.

Forcing some businesses to close entirely, while allowing others to continue serving patrons, even in a limited capacity, could very well be the difference between life and death for these businesses, which already operate on extremely tight margins, many restaurants are already exploring ways to continue to serve patrons in different ways, such as increased delivery and take-out options. Denying bars—all of which offer full menus—the same opportunity is not only arbitrary, but also unlawful. At a time when Nashvillians are still reeling from the impacts of the tornado, Metro’s action threatens an already fragile, but vital, segment of our local economy.

At this time, we are advising our clients to abide by any lawful directive they receive from the Metro Nashville Director of Health, however we are currently evaluating all options and will take appropriate legal action if necessary.

Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row is also set to close Monday night for the foreseeable future. Bentley tweeted that he plans to give each of his 90 hourly employees $1,000 to help while they are out of work.

This is a developing story. Stay tuned to News 2 and WKRN.com for updates.


Most patients with COVID-19 have a mild respiratory illness including fever, cough and shortness of breath. The Tennessee Department of Health strongly encourages Tennesseans to wash your hands often with soap and water and to not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

The CDC recommends that organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 10 people or more throughout the United States.

High-risk individuals are defined as adults over 60 years old or people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions such as: Heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease.

The Tennessee Department of Health offers a COVID-19 Public Information Line at 877-857-2945, with information available daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Central Time.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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