NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A California transplant says he has invested about $40 million in downtown real estate in less than six years.
Bill Miller of Icon Entertainment started with the Johnny Cash Museum on 3rd Avenue but soon learned there was a market that really hadn’t been tapped into in Music City.
“There’s a simple reason we came to Nashville, that was to honor my friend Johnny Cash,” Miller told News 2.
Miller was first a super fan of Johnny Cash’s, but the two built a lasting friendship.
His friendship with the man in black and his love for collecting rare items led Miller and his wife to Music City.
“I felt like Nashville had a real void of Johnny Cash’s presence, so from 2,000 miles away in California we opened up a little museum here in Nashville and the day we opened there were people around the block and we are serving about 450,000 people a year so we bought the building and all of a sudden we had a museum and a 20,000 square foot building so we figured we better start filling it.”
Now, less than six years later, Miller says he has acquired six properties and over 110,000 square feet in downtown Nashville.
“We feel very confident that the brands that we go with are those that have and will continue to withstand the test of time,” he explained.
Miller has branded with legends; from the Johnny Cash Museum and the Patsy Cline Museum to Nudie’s Honky Tonk and Johnny Cash’s Kitchen and Saloon to name a few.
“In each and every instance we’ve been able to open within a theme and then decorate around a theme.”
The kitchen and saloon is one dear to his heart.
“It’s really going back to what you would expect if you went to Johnny and June’s house to experience some of their southern hospitality,” said Miller
An experience Miller had the honor of living many times.
“When you were there really if you didn’t know that Johnny and June were celebrities or superstars you would have no idea that you weren’t just in somebody’s house, you know like going to grandma’s house or aunt Louise’s house. It was that feeling and that vibe of just pure love and pure hospitality.”
Miller has partnered with Nashville institution Swett’s Restaurant to develop the menu and design the kitchen.
He says there will be live music with stages on each floor playing all Johnny Cash.
They are planning to open on July 1.
Miller also owns Skull’s Rainbow Room in Printers Alley and will be opening Sinatra Bar and Lounge early next year just above it in the historic Southern Turf Building.
He says Sinatra’s will have a Manhattan meets Palm Springs ambiance and will feature upscale small plates and old school cocktails.
Miller also opened the House of Cards in the basement of the Johnny Cash Museum, which has been named among the country’s best places for a big night out.
He told News 2 he is not done shaping Nashville. He has two projects on the drawing board right now.
News 2 is reporting on Nashville’s historic growth and the growing pains that come with it. Click here for more Nashville 2019 reports.