McNair estate to divest closed restaurant

Newly chartered local venture in line to acquire majority stake

The widow of slain former NFL star Steve McNair has asked a Nashville judge to approve the sale of his stake in the restaurant he opened shortly before his death – whether the co-owners of the venture agree to the deal or not.

Mechelle McNair filed a motion in Davidson County Probate Court last Friday asking Judge Randy Kennedy to allow her husband's estate to divest ownership of the Gridiron 9 restaurant, where many fans gathered to mourn soon after news emerged of his murder on July 4 of this year.

The filing says McNair owned an 80 percent interest in the restaurant, with Robert Gaddy and Raymond White sharing the rest of the ownership of Gridiron 9 LLC. It says the estate "has attempted to receive consent" from the co-owners, but that "such consents have not been obtained."

Gaddy is the friend of McNair who called 911 to report the former NFL quarterback's killing. Probate filings in early September revealed that White, a cousin of McNair, had rented a condominium on Parthenon Avenue together with McNair, with a young woman reportedly later occupying the home. Neither man could be reached on Wednesday.

Gridiron 9, located at 2719 E. Jefferson St., opened in mid-June. McNair, who wore the number 9 when playing for the Tennessee Titans and then the Baltimore Ravens, made frequent appearances at the restaurant in its early days of operation. The court filing says Gridiron 9 shut down more than two months ago.

The prospective buyer, B. G. & W Eateries LLC, was chartered in late August, according to records from the Tennessee Secretary of State's office. Its registered office is at 3960 Bell Road and its representative in dealing with the estate was Wilbert Poindexter II. Efforts to reach him on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

The transaction would involve a $45,000 cash payment by B. G. & W to the estate, the forgiveness of a $100,000 loan from McNair to the business and the ending of a license agreement under which the restaurant could use the quarterback's name and likeness. The new owner would assume the restaurant's lease on the property, owned by Robin Realty LLC of Nashville.

Friday's filing argues that McNair's widow, as the representative of his estate, controls his "governance rights" under the restaurant company's operating agreement. Citing a Tennessee law, it contends: "a natural and unforced reading of the statute concludes that the financial rights of a deceased member are still retained and active."