The Food Biz: Urban Grub taking shape with eclectic coastal menu

Pennington creation to join Edley’s as next two 12South eateries

The dynamic 12South neighborhood is seeing one of the busiest seasons ever for its restaurant scene, with three openings expected in quick succession. Just three weeks ago, chef Jeremy Barlow opened his Sloco gourmet sandwich shop in the 12th and Paris complex. Now we learn that two more restaurants are preparing to open along the funky 12th Avenue strip.

Most dramatic to the eye is Urban Grub, a new venture from one of Nashville’s most prominent restaurateurs, Jay Pennington. He has a couple of major credits to his name, starting with co-founding the groundbreaking Bound’ry back in the ’90s, along with its sister restaurant South Street. (He’s no longer involved with those businesses). Currently, Pennington is co-owner of the poular mini-chain The Local Taco, with locations in Sylvan Park, Brentwood and most recently, Lexington, Ky.

For Urban Grub, Pennington and his business partner William Inman envision a menu swimming in several different cuisines. There will be Southern-style seafood and a raw bar with oysters, a charcuterie menu with various meats smoked in house, and finally, a roster of accessible Latin dishes like tacos and enchiladas. The full name on the logo (posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page) sums it up like this: Urban Grub Fish Pit and Southern Cantina.

The pieces may sound disparate, but Pennington said the uniting factor is cuisine from the regions surrounding the Gulf of Mexico. “You’ve heard of pan-Asian,” he said, laughing. “This is pan-Gulf.”

To bring it all together, Pennington has recruited the talented (and lately, ubiquitous) chef Deb Paquette, who’s helping design the menu. That would be in all her spare time, you know, when she’s not working to launch her own ambitious restaurant, Echo at the Encore, or cooking up special dinners at Tin Angel with her old friend Rick Bolsom.

The Local Taco (which Paquette also helped kick off) is known for being pretty family-friendly, and Pennington aims to keep that vibe going in the dining room at Urban Grub. The bar area, however, will appeal to the grown-up crowd.

Urban Grub is being built on the 12South parcel that long housed a car wash. Pennington and Inman are designing the space together, and it’s pretty fascinating to look at. It will be located at 2506 12th Ave. S. Pennington expects to open around the first of the year. Watch for updates on the Urban Grub page on Facebook.

Another intriguing 12South restaurant, Edley’s Bar-B-Que, will open a bit sooner — possibly in the next two or three weeks.

Edley’s is the project of Will Newman, a veteran of ice cream franchises, and his wife Catharine. To mastermind the kitchen, they’ve recruited Bret Tuck. A culinary and hospitality graduate from Louisville, Ky., Tuck spent time cooking at Park Place, the former fine-dining restaurant in Louisville, and he also served as chef at the suburban eatery Rockwall.

Later, Tuck was vice president of sales for Prime Seafood, based in Washington, D.C., then worked as a food broker here in Nashville. He was exploring opening his own restaurant when a fortuitous meeting through friends landed him on Will Newman’s team.

Edley’s will have a short menu tightly focused on various meats — chicken, wings, turkey, pork butts and ribs — smoked in house, plus made-from-scratch Southern sides and cornbread.

Take note, all you Texans: Eventually, Tuck plans to add beef brisket to the menu on an occasional basis. He’ll also fry up shrimp and catfish, and once the kitchen gets into its groove, he’ll introduce daily specials.

The cozy dining room will seat 75 people, and there’s also a 600-square-foot patio. Edley’s Bar-B-Que is at 2706 12th Ave. S. Tuck says it will open by the end of November. Check out edleysbbq.com or their page on Facebook.