Broadway business owners eager to get back open

Special Reports

Broadway on the Brink

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Broadway is hardly recognizable. The usually-packed sidewalks have turned quiet as honky-tonks have been shuttered since mid-March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s actually quite sad being a business owner right now,” said Brenda Sanderson. “Because when you spent your entire life working toward goals of having a successful business and you’re seeing things that are out of your control just shut everything down, it’s heartbreaking. It’s not only for the owners, but it’s heartbreaking to know the impact that it’s had on our staff.”

Brenda Sanderson, along with her husband, and son, owns Legends Corner, The Stage on Broadway, Second Fiddle, and Nashville Crossroads. They employ about 200 people but had to lay off more than 90-percent of their staff. 

“Many of them have families; this is their job,” Sanderson said. “And let’s don’t forget the musicians because they are so important. We wouldn’t be here doing what we’re doing if not for the musicians, so we’ve tried to take care of all of them as best we can.”

Many Broadway business owners, including Sanderson, are ready to get back open, even if it’s a new normal.

“I don’t think any of us think that the crowds are going to be standing at the door lined up to get in… It’s going to be a slow process. We all have to feel comfortable about being out in public and being around other people, so it’s just going take a little while, but that’s okay.”

“We feel absolutely confident that downtown Nashville and Broadway in particular, it will be back,” said Jeanette Barker, Vice President of Strategic Development for the Nashville Downtown Partnership.

“Recovery is going to happen. I think it’s just a matter of when we can do it safely and getting the commitment of the public to adhere to whatever parameters we might have to work within.”

Barker explained just how crucial downtown business is to Nashville’s economy. “We are generating about a quarter, or 25-percent, of Davidson County sales tax revenue in less than half a percent of the county’s footprint.”=

Barker said Lower Broadway business owners will be working together to rebound and get that revenue flowing. “That recovery will be spectacular…We just want to get back to what we do best, which is to be a great city and a great downtown.”

“We all talk a lot about what the comeback will be. We all see that it will be slow, we understand that, we totally do, but that’s okay. But we can’t have that opportunity to come back if we don’t get our doors open. We are thrilled to hear that possibility of us getting open in the near future is wonderful to us.”

Sanderson and other honky-tonk owners are joining forces, just waiting for the green light from the mayor to put the music back in Music City. 

How will one of Nashville’s most vibrant areas rebound? Bar owners open up about their concerns as News 2 looks at Broadway on the Brink. Click here to read more.

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

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