NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — It’s been nearly a year since the Christmas Day bombing on Second Avenue in downtown Nashville and for many business owners, they are still in the same place they were in 2020. Some, have no idea when they will reopen. Rodizio Grill and the Melting Pot are two of them.
Christmas is the only day each year the Melting Pot and Rodizio Grill are closed. But that day in 2020 was probably the most unforgettable day for owners Mark Rosenthal and Demetrius Kelley, owners of both restaurants.
For Kelley, it started with a phone call from the alarm company. “I don’t know if our ovens or our grills or something exploded and cut the gas off,” remembered Kelley. “But there’s been a massive explosion at the restaurant. I don’t know what’s going on.”
“Then the phone rang, and it was my partner Demetrius on the phone, saying that there had been an explosion,” recalled Rosenthal. “And so we’re immediately looking at the cameras and then he got us on the phone with the landlord and the landlord said there was a countdown. At that moment, first, we had thought at this point that we had caused the explosion at that moment, it was like watching the second plane hit the tower, you immediately knew it was intentional.”
Like the rest of the city, they were glued to the news coverage, trying to make sense of what happened.
“It’s like all of a sudden, you think you can fix something and then you realize this is more serious, this is maybe something that we’re not going to be able to fix,” said Rosenthal. “Then the images just started showing up on TV besides what we could see internally. It was pretty damning evidence that this was devastating.”
When Kelley and Rosenthal were finally able to get inside their restaurants, devastation is what they saw. “You’re like, ‘where am I,’ you know, I’ve seen this, you know, this building every day for 20 years, five days a week, 10 hours a day. And it’s unrecognizable,” remembered Kelley.
Although almost a year has passed since then, they’re really no closer to reopening. The damage for both restaurants is about $5 million.
“We’re stuck, we’re just waiting. It’s frustrating, extremely frustrating,” said Rosenthal. “You can only play the hand that’s dealt you. So we are just trying to make the most of it now and figure out what we can do because we don’t have a timeline. It’s easier to plan when you have some certainty, but we have no certainty on anything right now.”
What is certain, they aren’t giving up on their restaurants — their customers won’t let them.
Kelley described all the messages they’ve received from customers. “It’s a flurry of emails. You know, ‘what can I do? I’ll come down there and like, help you guys clean? You know, that’s my anniversary spot. And, you know, hoping to have you back over by next June, you know, what can I do?'”
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.
There are things they’ll never be able to forget about that day and things they choose not to remember.
“Honestly, I don’t know the name of the person who did this. I don’t care,” said Rosenthal. “We are just going to move on. Is it life-changing? Of course. For Demetrius and I, it’s course-changing.”
For now, the plan is to stay the course and eventually reopen on 2nd Avenue.