Five Points business owners persevere in wake of tornado outbreak, COVID-19

Nashville Tornado

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Signs of destruction still linger in the Five Points area of East Nashville more than four months after a deadly tornado outbreak.

At the time, business owners, neighbors, and strangers rushed outside to see what damage was done in the wake of the twisters. “Our gas lines were destroyed, our water lines were destroyed, our electrical systems were destroyed,” recalled Matt Charette, owner of Beyond the Edge, Drifters, and Boston Commons.

An EF-3 tornado ripped through East Nashville March 3, 2020.

“Immediately my phone started ringing, and it was the managers here, and they were like Matt, this is bad, we’ve got broken glass, we’ve got hurt people, one of your buildings is completely destroyed,” said Charette.

The iconic Weiss Liquors sign that has been up since the 1930’s was blown over. “My grandfather designed it my grandmother picked out all the colors, they kind of added onto it a couple times,” says owner of Weiss Liquors, Anne Nicholas. “I think it kind of welcomes people into East Nashville. It’s the gateway down Main Street.”

“We did not have power for seven days,” Nicholas recalled, “We did not have internet or phone lines for 17 days. And when we finally came fully back online, four days later the city got shut down for the [COVID-19] pandemic.”

A one-two-punch for business owners in the area. “The tornado, and then COVID-19, and then everything going on in the world has really taken a toll. It seems like we’re just fighting battles on all fronts,” said Marcot McCormack, chef and owner of Margot Cafe and Bar.

McCormack started her business 20 years ago. She expanded with a second restaurant in 2006.
“Marche’s concept was built on the idea of eggs, of inexpensive food and when you have an inexpensive food, the way you counter that is by doing a lot of volume,” said McCormack. “We decided to close Marche’s at the end of March after trying for a couple of weeks to do a to-go business.”

The cleanup and rebuilding of Five Points is ongoing. Dumpsters are still filled to the brim. Many apartments are boarded up. Business are gated as construction continues.

“One of my customers after the tornado said, ‘Matt, how long you think before you’re back open, you know 5/6 months?’ I said, ‘5/6 months?! 5/6 weeks!'” Charette adds, “I was very optimistic, but I didn’t realize the damage that the tornado had done either.

Over at Weiss Liquors the shelves have been restocked and shorter hours implemented, and they work to get a new sign up and shining once again. “We’ve worked with a couple different companies to use some of the original pieces and manufacture some of the new pieces that will look the same,” says Nicholas.

Down the road at Margot Cafe and Bar, doors are still open but with a smaller staff and new dinner menu. “We are survivors here, this is the second tornado that this building has survived, it survived the tornado of 98,” said McCormack.

In this difficult time, these business owners tell News 2 they wouldn’t want to be anywhere else and they’re not giving up.

“I had customers…it still makes me emotional…I had customers the day after the tornado, come out here, and they were like, ‘Matt, what can we do? What can we do? I said, ‘I don’t know, nothing really.’ They said. ‘Matt, we are not leaving until you tell us how we can help you,'” said Charette.

McCormack added, ” Our community really rallies behind us and that is super special.”

“We just wanted to be here and show East Nashville that no matter what- tornado, pandemic- we will be here,” Nicholas explained.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of Super Tuesday tornado rebuilding and recovery.

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