NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s been a week of slow reopenings for bars in Nashville, with Mayor John Cooper easing restrictions to allow bars to operate with twenty-five customers inside at a time.
Well-known honky tonk Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge made a few adjustments to get back in business, rebranding as a bar and grill since restaurants can now operate at 50% capacity.
Tootsie’s obtained a restaurant license from the state and said the popular tourist destination will obey all laws and regulations.
Per Mayor Cooper’s guidelines, substantial food items like steak and pork chops will be on the menu. Tootsie’s said this is an attempt to save their business and now it’s the customers’ turn to adjust.
“I don’t like it a lot. I used to come out here weekly. I’m from Dallas, I’d visit family over here, it used to be really fun, now it’s not, I understand why, I’m glad they are taking the measures they are to keep people safe,” one tourist told News 2.
At his news conference Tuesday, Mayor Cooper discussed the need for people to get back to work, including musicians.
There is now a national effort to save music venues and artists here in Nashville.
Music venues in Nashville were among the first businesses forced to close and they will be the last to reopen.
Owners said they have no way to generate income.
More than one dozen local venues are part of a national effort calling on Congress to “Save our Stages.”
House and Senate sponsored bills that propose $10 billion in grants to independent clubs and stages have gained bipartisan support.
Current federal relief programs don’t help because they require businesses to hire back 75% of their employees.
Without money coming in, venues can’t meet the criteria.
Democratic Representative Jim Cooper spoke with us about the effort to save Nashville’s music scene.
“The music industry is getting more organized as it needs to be. These are desperate times. This is literally an existential crisis for the music industry. Some people’s most memorable times of their lives were at the Bluebird Cafe, Exit In wonderful places like that, 3rd and Lindsley, Nashvillians know the whole list. We’ve got to keep those venues alive; they are in a particular niche in our economy that’s kind of hard to help,” explained Rep. Cooper.
Ninety percent of the country’s independent music venues are expected to close in month if they do not receive federal aid.
Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.