The Sutler Is Shuttering | bites

After a seven-year run in Melrose, the 21st-century incarnation of beloved saloon The Sutler is closing for good on March 13.

In September 2014, Austin Ray of A. Ray Hospitality and Joe, Gary and David Parkes of The Parkes Companies revived The Sutler as an homage to the original restaurant/bar, best known for live music and good (if not good for you) bar food.

The property was beset by more than one flooding event through the years in the basement level, which housed two other A. Ray properties — the Rambler cocktail bar and Melrose Billiards next door. Rambler has been closed for months since heavy rains damaged many of the elegant fixtures in the lounge. Fortunately, Melrose Billiards has always been intentionally a little bit grubby, so it was a lot easier to clean up to its normal level of delightful pool-hall grunginess. Ray wants to make sure that Nashvillians know that Melrose Billiards will remain open after The Sutler closes.

We mourn the loss of The Sutler for the second time, as longtime original owner Johnny Potts lost his lease in 2006 and was forced to decamp to Columbia, Tenn., in 2009. Sadly, Potts passed away in the fall. On the bright side, some elements of The Sutler will live on.

The popular weekend Bluegrass Brunch will take its show on the road to Von Elrod’s Beer Hall & Kitchen starting in April, and Ray has offered employment at comparable pay rates at his other restaurants (Melrose Billiards, Von Elrod’s and MLRose) to every displaced employee from The Sutler.

One element that I was curious about was what will happen to that unique wall of leather boots that served as the backdrop to the stage area. Ray said that one stung a bit: “It was quite a project to collect them. It’s one of many bitter losses that come with this closure. It’s the coolest wall covering I have ever been a part of creating, and we will be saving at least the signed ones.”

In his official announcement of the closing, Ray shares: “We’ve made the extremely hard decision to close The Sutler. It was a piece of history for many longtime Nashvillians, and our vision for the space was to serve creative and delicious Southern food, craft cocktails and local beer, and create unforgettable live music moments. We did all that and then some, and I couldn’t be prouder of what we built during our time here. Being open forever is not the only measure of success, and I’m so grateful to our team at The Sutler, our loyal guests, and the many talented musicians who played our stage.”

This won’t be the end of the space as a restaurant, though. While Ray won’t reveal exactly who is moving into the space at 2600 Eight Ave. S. Suite 109, he does share that it will be an already established, locally owned restaurant, so we’ve got that to look forward to.

While it hurts to lose an institution that has been around since the ’70s and hosted stars like Emmylou Harris, Levon Helm and Townes Van Zandt on its stage, it feels like Austin Ray has brought the operation in for the gentlest landing possible and set his company up to be even healthier going forward. I will miss those smoked brisket nachos!

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