NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Lower Broadway is quiet these days. That is until you make your way to John Rich’s Redneck Riviera Bar & BBQ where bands continue to play. No one’s in the audience, but thousand of people are watching from home.
It’s just one way the country music star from the duo Big & Rich has helped during the COVID-19 closure. “People that work in our places, and work with our brands, that’s a big deal to us and we want to look out for them as much as we possibly can,” said Rich.
Performers receive tips through Venmo, but the biggest gesture came when Rich vowed to pay all of his employees’ salaries, even servers and bartenders, until things reopened.
“I don’t think anything we’re doing is sustainable until infinity…but we look at our people as the ultimate bottom line.”
Rich says they are more than just employees, they are family, “I know those people…I know our bands. This is not just like something I stuck my name on. We consider them to be like family.”
He took his commitment a step further, challenging other owners to pay their people.
Blake Shelton said the following in an Instagram video:
“Hey everyone. Blake here…Man, I haven’t said anything about our Ole Red locations. I want people out there to know we do have a commitment to all of our employees, and we’re taking care of them.”
Dierks Bently accepted. He gave $1000 to each of his 90 Whiskey Row employees.
Then another pair stepped up. Florida Georgia Line spoke about their FGL House employees in an Instagram video. “We want to give a shout out to Dierks Bently. We saw the post you made. Very inspiring. Quite honestly, you inspired us man and we’re going to follow suit and take your lead and do the same thing.”
TC Restaurant Group, which reps Jason Aldean’s Kitchen and Rooftop Bar, along with Luke Bryan’s 32 Bridge, also matched the $1000 to every employee.
“The celebrities we work with yeah, they play arenas, they’re huge. But at the end of the day, they look you in the eye, they shake your hand. They really care,” said Adriana Orsini, Asst. Director of Marketing for TC Restaurant Group.
All of these actions make Rich proud. “I think they did the right thing. I’m sure they were going to do it anyway. Those are good guys.”
Now he’s focused on keeping Lower Broadway beating. “When we came along people said, what is this sound? I never heard country music like that before. That happened because Big Kenny and I were in a lot of those bars playing our music and doing what was fun for us. So it is a very important place, not only for Tennessee and Nashville, but I think for the country as a music center. We got to keep it alive and healthy.”
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.