Mirror — the nine-year-old restaurant that helped launch the 12South neighborhood revival — is for sale, according to the owners. The restaurant’s lease expires next year, and the owners – Michael and Colleen DeGregory and entrepreneur Rick Bolsom — hope to sell the business by sometime in 2010.
Colleen DeGregory said she and her chef husband are exhausted after years of grueling hours running a restaurant, and they miss Miami, where Colleen grew up. “I can’t tell you the last time I’ve seen my family at the holidays,” she said. “Oh, yes I can. Ten years ago,” she added, laughing.
She said the restaurant has been hit hard by the recession and a variety of factors, including the fact that many of the artists and bohemians who helped launch the neighborhood revival (and the restaurant) have moved to East Nashville for better housing prices.
Mirror has quietly put the word out in the restaurant industry that the business is for sale, said Bolsom. The property is owned by Joel Solomon’s 1221 Partners, and a new restaurant would be able to negotiate a fresh lease.
Bolsom, a longtime Nashville restaurateur who also owns Tin Angel, said Mirror was steadily profitable until the recession began to take a toll. He describes the business as a great opportunity for the right person.
“It’s a great location, the building is excellent, the patio is great,” he said. “It just needs a new personality to come in and rock it.”
Several parties have inquired about the sale, Bolsom says. The restaurant is being offered as a turnkey operation, fully equipped to reopen under a new owner. He says if a deal is reached and the buyers can work out a lease with the landlord, “they can be in possession the next day.”
Meanwhile, Mirror will continue to operate until it sells or the lease expires. “We’re still open, and we’re still really hustling,” Colleen DeGregory said. She urged neighbors and fans of Mirror to come in to support the restaurant and the staff, whom she described as “great, great people” who will be looking for new jobs in a difficult economy.
“We’re not closed, so please come in,” she said.
Provence owners moving to L.A.
The couple who own the local chain Provence Breads & Cafe are headed not for the south of France, but for Southern California. But the business as we know it won’t change. In fact, Provence may open a sister café in Los Angeles.
Provence is owned by restaurateur Terry Carr-Hall and his life partner Brent Polk, a physician and researcher at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Polk is a prominent pediatrician who served for a time as interim medical director at the highly ranked Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
Now he has accepted a prestigious job as top physician and vice president at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, which is affiliated with the University of Southern California. He’ll also be chair of pediatrics at USC and a vice dean, and will serve as director of the Saban Research Institute.
Carr-Hall soon will start commuting, splitting his time between Nashville and Los Angeles — 20 days a month here, 10 there — constantly keeping up with Provence via software and cyberspace. Carr-Hall says Provence has been doing well lately despite the recession, so there was no thought of selling or closing.
“Last month was the best October we’ve ever had,” he says. “It’s really been energizing.”
He adds that business has even picked up at the store in the Hill Center at Green Hills, which has seen some slow days since it opened. “It really took a year for it to gel,” Carr-Hall says.
Meanwhile, Polk has been thriving in his field, pediatric gastroenterology. Carr-Hall says: “I had to be a supportive guy and say, ‘You have this wonderful career. You might have to step out and leave Nashville.’”
The ultimate outcome was tailored for both partners. “Brent was recruited by more than one children’s hospital, but L.A. Children’s made a concerted effort to recognize me and recognize our relationship. And they were very food-savvy,” Carr-Hall says.
The hospital execs are pushing for a future Provence location in their neighborhood, Carr-Hall says, and they arranged for him to meet with knowledgeable sources in the L.A. bakery and restaurant scene.
While keeping their foothold in Music City, the couple will actually be making a return trip to California. They met at Stanford University in Palo Alto in 1989 before moving to Nashville in 1993. Three years later, they started the first Provence location in Hillsboro Village. Their new dual California-Tennessee citizenship starts in April.