NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As we get close to one year since the Christmas Day bombing in downtown Nashville, restaurants are still picking up the pieces. Even those with minimal cosmetic damage haven’t fully recovered. This coupled with the pandemic has made for a difficult year for restaurants on 2nd Avenue.

Chef Matthew Bell is an artist and the Gray & Dudley restaurant is where he does his best work. Gray & Dudley is a thriving restaurant inside the 21C Hotel on historic 2nd Avenue. But on Christmas Day 2020, all that came into jeopardy.

Even though Gray & Dudley is a tenth of a mile away from the bombing site, they still had damage. The front door was blown through the restaurant, damage was found throughout the historic building, and windows were blown out across the street and still haven’t been repaired.

“You know, I think we were really lucky. Most of our damage was superficial,” said Bell. “Just that the idea that we were all OK, our guests were all OK.”

Still, Gray & Dudley was closed for 20 days. While that may seem small compared to other businesses that still aren’t open, it’s a rough blow to the restaurant industry. Especially on the heels of the pandemic.

“I think that really is what resonates with all of us in the hotel is that we, and the restaurant, we love to provide hospitality we love to be with our guests,” said Bell. “You find yourself really kind of lamenting that fact more than anything that ability to connect with people. And in the year that was leading up to the bombing, we were all desperate for connection.”

That connection came after the bombing, just in a different way, and it was between the restaurants along 2nd Avenue and their employees. “Something about shared trauma brings people together for sure. But, you know, I think it was amazing to see,” added Bell.

Gray & Dudley has been back open for months now, but it’s still not back to what it was before. “You know, I think that the industry as a whole is going to have some reckoning. I don’t know what full recovery looks like, I think that a lot of things are going to change in the dining industry,” said Bell.

News 2 takes you inside the recovery of Nashville’s Historic Downtown area rocked by the bombing last Christmas. Catch special reports on 2nd Avenue Reborn all day Thursday in every newscast. And on WKRN.com.

One thing that hasn’t changed, the resiliency of Nashvillians.

“This is nothing new for Nashville, right? In the face of everything, it’s always Nashville strong,” said Bell. “You see the signs everywhere and maybe you don’t put as much value on them as you should, because they are something that is has become a real cry for Nashville.”

Chef Bell said the best way to support the restaurants on 2nd Avenue is by dining there, buying gift cards or getting carry-out.

For more information about Gray & Dudley, click here.