2019 In Charge – Food
The chefs, brewers, entrepreneurs and executives leading the way in Middle Tennessee's dining and drinking sector
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The 2019 edition of the wide-ranging In Charge compendium of Middle Tennessee's top business, political and civic leaders is our 10th. Like those before it, it was pulled together with lots of help from our friends at the Scene and Nfocus and represents the best of the best in the Nashville area.
Darek Bell — Founder, Corsair Distillery: Founded Nashville’s first microdistillery, which since 2015 has operated in Wedgewood-Houston. Bought massive warehouse in The Nations in 2018 and opened revamped Marathon Village space Brewstillery earlier this year. His WeHo building saw opening of Jackalope last year and prepping for Chandler Brothers Houston Street Pool Room space.
Bob Bernstein — Owner, Bongo Productions: Has added Box, a 12South coffee bar and bakery; Fetch, a to-go storefront next to Fido; Game Point @ Bongo East (the city’s first board game café); and Jefferson Street Café. Now more than 25 years in business. Prepping move to Alloy at Tech Hill.
Nick Bishop Sr. and Nick Bishop Jr. — Co-owners, Hattie B’s: Father and son founded popular Midtown hot-chicken outpost in 2012. Opened in Memphis (Cooper-Young district), Birmingham and Atlanta in 2018 to go with location on Eight Avenue South in Melrose.
Matt Bodnar — Partner, Fresh Hospitality and Fresh Capital: Part of group behind expansion of Jim ‘N Nick’s and Martin’s BBQ, among others. Plans to this year finish food court at ex-Hunter’s space near Five Points and begin work on upgrading former building home to The Mad Platter.
Sean Brock — Restaurateur, Culinary Advisor for Husk: Will open in winter 2019-20 restaurant — to focus upon the cuisine and culture of the Appalachian region — in the McFerrin Park/Cleveland Park district of East Nashville.
Maneet Chauhan — President, Morph Hospitality Group: Nationally known chef opened vibrant Chauhan Ale & Masala in 2014, then launched Franklin-based Mantra Artisan Brewery in 2015. Two new restaurants were added to her hospitality group in 2017: Tànsuŏ (an upscale Chinese restaurant) and The Mockingbird (a global diner). Last year opened Chaatable on west side and Steel Barrel Brewing in Murfreesboro.
Will Cheek III — Partner, Waller: Ex- Bone McAllester Norton attorney leads Waller’s alcoholic beverage team and provides licensing and regulatory compliance advice to restaurants, hotels, art venues, bars and clubs. Go-to source for Tennessee liquor law. Authors Last Call, a blog covering alcohol, restaurant and hospitality news.
Sandy Cochran — President and CEO, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store: Former Books-A-Million CEO earned a contract extension in 2018. Company expects to open eight or nine Cracker Barrels and three Holler & Dash units this year.
Benjamin Goldberg and Max Goldberg — Co-Owners, Strategic Hospitality: The brothers boast a portfolio that includes stalwarts Catbird Seat, Bastion, Patterson House and Pinewood Social. Opened popular Germantown spot Henrietta Red in 2017 and prepping for debut of Downtown Sporting Club on Lower Broad.
Linus Hall — Owner, Yazoo Brewing: Oversees what is arguably Nashville’s top craft brewing company. Has been key in efforts to improve the state’s beer tax structure and to make sale of high-gravity beers less restrictive. Brewery slated to move this year from The Gulch to Madison.
Dan Haskell — Partner, Gullett Sanford Robinson & Martin: Offers more than 40 years of experience lobbying on behalf of clients before the Tennessee General Assembly related to alcoholic beverage regulations and laws.
Clint Gray, Derrick Moore and Emanuel “E.J.” Reed — Owners, Slim & Husky’s Pizza Beeria: Opened now uber-popular beer and pie joint in fast-changing Buchanan Arts District in 2017 and have not looked back. Prepping Atlanta, Wedgewood-Houston and Fifth + Broadway locations.
Chris Hyndman — Owner, MStreet: Restaurateur who, with Jim Caden, transformed McGavock Street (aka MStreet) in The Gulch with Virago, Whiskey Kitchen and Kayne Prime (as well as Midtown’s Tavern). Involved with Eleventh House hotel in The Gulch.
Wesley Keegan — Founder and CEO, TailGate Brewing Co.: Former San Diego-based brewer has made major impact in Music City since relocating here in 2014. Opened taproom on Music Row Roundabout in 2017 and similar business on Gallatin Avenue in East Nashville in 2018.
Pat Martin — Owner, Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint: Opened Hugh-Baby’s BBQ & Burger Shop on Charlotte Avenue in 2017 and added Berry Hill location this winter. SoBro Martin’s bustles with tourists and locals alike. Will open this year in ex-Logan’s building in Midtown.
Margot McCormack — Chef-Owner, Margot and Marché: East Nashville culinary pioneer trained many chefs who helped establish Nashville as a popular foodie destination. Has received awards from Nashville Food Project and Springer Mountain Farms and appeared on Vivian Howard’s PBS series “A Chef’s Life.”
Tom Morales — CEO, TomKats Hospitality: Founder of TomKats (entertainment industry caterer) and managing partner in SoBro’s The Southern Steak & Oyster and popular Lower Broad restaurant/bar/music venue Acme Feed & Seed. Sold interest in The Gulch’s Fin & Pearl and CBD’s Woolworth on 5th.
Catherine Newman and Will Newman — Owners, Edley’s Bar-B-Que and 12South Filling Station: Wife-and -husband team has seen Edley’s featured on the Cooking Channel. Duo operates five locations in Nashville area. Popular Filling Station complements 12South BBQ joint.
Hazem Ouf — Chairman and CEO, CraftWorks Holdings: Ex-Logan’s Roadhouse CEO now oversees Colorado-based parent company of CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries and Logan’s. Rock Bottom Restaurants & Breweries (Lower Broad is home to an outpost) is part of the CraftWorks portfolio.
Deb Paquette — Executive Chef, Etch and Etc.: Esteemed chef joined with 4 Top Hospitality to bring creative dishes to Etch, an elegant SoBro anchor, and Etc., the more intimate sister site in Green Hills. One of the first to bring global flavors to Nashville’s dining scene. Teams with Doug Hogrefe and Paul Schramkowski.
Austin Ray — President and Founder, A.Ray Hospitality: Runs company that opened in 2017 both M.L.Rose in Capitol View and Von Elrod’s near Germantown. Also an operating partner at The Sutler Saloon (Rambler, its lower-level speakeasy, opened in 2018) and a partner in Sinema restaurant.
Randy Rayburn — Owner, Midtown Cafe and Cabana: Elder statesman of the restaurant scene. Community leader in whose name operates the culinary arts program at Nashville State Community College. A member in Belcourt Partners development team, whose Moxy Hotel will open this year in Hillsboro Village.
Bailey Spaulding and Steve Wright — Co-Owners, Jackalope Brewing: The former built Jackalope from a college hobby into one of Nashville’s most beloved breweries. The latter started as Jackalope’s biggest fan and worked his way up to co-owner. Duo open in 2018 Wedgewood-Houston brewery The Ranch, while transitioning focus of the Gulch brewer (The Den) to sours and specialty beers.
Jimmy Spradley — CEO, Standard Functional Foods Group: Was 26 when family bought Standard Candy in 1982. Business grew to 500-plus employees before Spradley sold it in 2017 to refocus on Goo Goo Clusters. SoBro shop is a huge hit with tourists.
Kent Taylor — Co-Founder, Blackstone Brewing: The so-called godfather of the local beer scene. In business since 1994 and runs city’s longest-operational brewery. His opening of Clifton Avenue brewery taproom in North Nashville softened blow of 2016 closing of Midtown brewpub. Became available in early 2018 in all Tennessee’s 95 counties.
Tandy Wilson — Chef-Owner, City House: Helped spur Nashville’s rise on the national culinary scene when he opened regarded restaurant in Germantown in late 2007. In 2016 was the first Nashville chef to win the prestigious James Beard Award as Best Chef, Southeast. Opened Mop/Broom Mess Hall in Germantown in 2018.
Fleming Wilt — CEO, Christie Cookie: Germantown headquarters offers beloved treats for sale via a retail space that opened in 2013. Opened retail space in 12South in 2018.