This iconic saloon, which opened in 1976 by country radio personality Johnny Potts and operated for 30 years before closing, is back. The reimagined concept has been given new life by local restaurateur Austin Ray (of M.L. Rose Craft Beer and Burgers fame) and Joe Parkes (of The Parkes Companies).
Native Nashvillians, both were former patrons of the original Sutler, and they've brought it back as part of the current arts, dining and urban living revival of the Melrose neighborhood and the 8th Avenue corridor.
The Sutler jars include choices like fire-roasted green chiles, sweetwater buttermilk cheddar, Kenny's gouda and Belle chevre and saltine crackers — Photo courtesy of The Sutler
“There’s always been an entertainment component to this neighborhood,” says Ray, about bringing back the spirited saloon to the 8th Avenue area. “People who have been in Nashville long enough love this area for the decades of history, and people newer to the city are discovering it. We’re about to really bring that entertainment vibe back with the entire Melrose complex, which includes The Sutler.”
The renewed Sutler is a reimagined concept of the original venue with the same name. The two-level space with more than 8,000 square feet includes a main level reminiscent of the original Sutler, but expanded to feature a craft beer and cocktail menu, Nashville-style cuisine and live music regularly. The basement level houses a speakeasy-inspired cocktail lounge.
Owner Austin Ray of A. Ray Hospitality, right, and Joe Parkes Jr., building developer and restorer — Photo courtesy of The Sutler
The original Sutler was part venue, part restaurant and part dive bar, a social hub for locals and the Nashville music community, as well as a way point for travelers and touring acts visiting the city.
The Sutler was host to countless musicians, artists and acts in its first lifetime, including performances from Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, Don Everly, Buzz Cason, Emmylou Harris and even Johnny Cash.
“We started our business in 1978, and our office was across the street from The Sutler, above where M.L. Rose now sits,” says Parkes. “We’d have some late nights, and after shutting the office down, we’d come over to The Sutler for schooners of beer and food. The commitment to preserving the history – not only of the original Sutler, but also the entire Melrose complex – is something that’s been a crucial part of this project.”
The Sutler is now open in the Melrose development — Photo courtesy of The Sutler
Chef Nick Seabergh has created a pan-Southern menu that takes full use of the restaurant’s hickory smoker and wood-fired grill, and the new menu items give a nod to the original menu with its fresh new items.
Long-standing relationships with local and regional farmers and purveyors bring us the best products and ingredients, like the punchy tomato raspberry soul with Texas olive oil and herbed croutons, and pork rind nachos with goat cheese chorizo queso.
Happy hour is a wonderful time to try some of the specialty drinks or 18 beers on tap, including local Yazoo and Tennessee Brew Works.
“It’s a good idea,” says original owner Johnny Potts. “I can’t think of another place that reopened an old location like this, but this is the time and place for it.”
Dine on dishes like this Sunburst Farms whole rainbow trout with Texas-style mustard rub and black-eyed pea cowboy caviar — Photo courtesy of The Sutler