A tornado tore through Nashville, Tenn., on Monday amid late-night storms that reportedly left at least 22 people dead and more than 40 structures destroyed across several counties.
Restaurants throughout the region were closed due to damage or power outages, or the inability to get staff in to assess buildings because of the debris. First responders on Tuesday morning were working through buildings to find anyone potentially trapped, and the death toll was expected to rise.
But despite the devastation, many restaurants rallied to provide food and drink to those in need.
Noble’s Kitchen & Beer Hall, one of nine concepts within Just One More Hospitality Group, suffered severe damage that will likely keep the two-story venue closed for up to a month, said Nick Gajewski, general manager.
But no one was injured and the restaurant had closed about an hour and a half before the storms hit. “We were lucky,” he said. “But a lot of those around us were not so lucky.”
Gajewski and about half of the restaurant’s staff were serving smoked chicken, pulled pork and drinks from the restaurant’s parking lot to anyone in need. Other restaurant operators from the neighborhood were also contributing food and drink, he said.
The hardest hit areas included the Germantown neighborhood, Five Points east of Nashville, and Mt. Juliet, according to The Tennessean.
Among businesses damaged were the restaurants Burger Up, Edley’s Bar-B-Que, Smith & Lentz Brewing, Koi Sushi & Thai, Crazy Gnome Brewery, Boombozz Craft Pizza & Taphouse and High Garden Woodland Tea & Sipping Apothecary.
Officials at Boombozz said no one was hurt, but restaurant officials were still assessing damage.
Edley’s Bar-B-Que on Facebook said its East Nashville location suffered damage and a food truck was shown laying on its side, but said damage was nothing compared to friends and neighbors.
The cocktail bar Attaboy posted that it was closed due to damage, as did the restaurants Margot Café & Bar and sister concept Marche Artisan Foods, and others.
“Tonight we were hit by the tornado that devastated the heart of East Nashville. Five Points was our home. For now until we figure out what the next step is we will be closed,” wrote The Soda Parlor in a Facebook post.
The Nashville-based O’Charley’s casual dining chain, owned by ABRH — formerly known as American Blue Ribbon Holdings LLC — said in a statement that one Hermitage location in eastern Nashville was closed until a team could get in to assess the extent of damage, but all other restaurants were open Tuesday. The 164-unit chain operates 16 restaurants in Middle Tennessee.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the communities and families who have been affected,” wrote Craig Barber, ABRH CEO. “Our top priority has been ensuring the safety and well-being of our team members. We are still working to verify that everyone is okay and if we can provide any assistance.
“In times like these, we will do our part to help the communities we serve recover and rebuild,” Barber added.
The roof of music venue The Basement East was reportedly torn off not long after hosting a benefit for potential presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. No one was injured, according to Rolling Stone, and staff members rode out the storm in the venue’s basement.
Henrietta Red posted that the restaurant was not damaged, but will be closed until further notice due to power outages and damage in the neighborhood.
The Red Bicycle Coffee and Crepes posted that its building sustained serious damage. “Please send thoughts and prayers to our neighborhood and East Nashville,” officials wrote. “We know so many people are needing them right now. We hope everyone is safe and sound. We will try to open as soon as possible, it might be minimal service, but it will be something.”
The Tennessee Hospitality & Tourism Association called for donations to The Music City Inc. fund. “Those dollars will be used for folks in our industry that have lost homes and property,” said Rob Mortensen, the association’s president and CEO.
In a statement, the group also urged members and other hoteliers in the Nashville and surrounding areas to provide rooms to victims displaced by the tornadoes for a reasonable rate, and potentially even at the government rate or lower, as part of a long-time program called “Together We Prepare.”
Mortensen said in an email, “It is our business to be hospitable and help in times of need and this email is to remind all the hoteliers of the program and what we can do to help our fellow humans. We appreciate what you do in times of emergency.”
The Nashville chapter of the U.S. Bartender’s Guild organized a Gofundme campaign to support members of the food-and-beverage community who lost lives, homes, jobs and health. By midday, the group had raised $2,783 toward a $20,000 goal.
Nashville is also home to the organization Children of Restaurant Employees, or CORE, which has raised more than $4 million since 2004 to support more than 600 families across the industry during life altering circumstances.
CORE officials did not immediately respond to press requests.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to the former name of ABRH and corrected Craig Barber's title.
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