The restaurant scene in the 12South neighborhood continues to be dynamic - a new gourmet market and deli specializing in what the owners call "local, responsibly farmed" meat and produce just opened in the 12th & Paris development.
And in another 12th & Paris twist, anchor restaurant Burger Up — which has been a huge hit since it opened in May — will soon take its sizzle down Interstate 65 to a completely different neighborhood: Cool Springs.
The deli, called LB's Market House, and Burger Up share a co-owner, Miranda Whitcomb Pontes. She owns Burger Up with her husband Michael Pontes, who quit his job several months ago to manage the blockbuster burger joint. At LB's Market House, her business partner is Nick Dryden, an architect who helped create 12th & Paris.
Successful restaurateurs often display a combo of good business sense and surprising idealism. Miranda Pontes is quite direct about the latter. "I want to change the way people think about food," she said.
While the eco-friendly food buzzword used to be "organic," now it's "local." That's partly because many small-operation local farmers can't afford official organic certification, but the way they raise their products is similar or even identical to organic agriculture. Often they raise smaller herds of livestock and use pastures to help feed the animals instead of vast troughs of grain. Proponents say this makes for better-tasting meat and less environmental impact than industrial farms.
Pontes said LB's and Burger Up (along with her original project, Frothy Monkey, where she said she's no longer involved on a daily basis) use locally sourced meat and produce whenever possible.
Pontes launched LB's two weeks ago at 2905 12th Ave. S. The name "LB" refers both to her son's initials and to salad bar offerings and deli meats sold by the pound.
It's a small space, but everything is carefully selected, including a menu featuring breakfast sandwiches made with farm eggs, fresh daily soups and locally raised and cured deli meats, served hot or cold as sandwiches on bread from Nashville bakery Charpier's.
Pontes said restaurant consultant Dan Latham, whom she met on a visit to gourmet market Star Provisions in Atlanta, had a big role in the menu. "He helped us build a network of responsible farmers," she said. "We buy whole sides of beef, and we use it all."
This means menus may vary based on what cuts are left. One day might bring corned beef, another meatloaf. Latham is also helping LB's chef and general manager Matt King develop the program for curing meats in-house.
Meanwhile, Pontes and her husband are looking into the long-term future with their second Burger Up, which they plan to open in June at 401 Cool Springs Blvd., in the strip with P.F. Chang's. The setting is obviously different — suburban vs. residential urban — but that's intentional. "It's what we need to do if the restaurant is going to grow into multiples, which is possible one day," Michael Pontes said.
His wife again stressed their ambitious goal. "We want to foster thoughtful consumers in a feel-good family business," she said. "We want to change the world.
Behold, Brazilian beast
Nashville, unlike most major food cities in America, hasn't had a Brazilian-style steakhouse in a while. (Fire of Brazil, a chain, was here for a while but closed.)
But the Brazilian steakhouse is back. This time it isn't a chain, it's independently owned and operated by the husband-and-wife team of Airton and Christy Rodrigues.
Rodizio Brazilian Steakhouse will take over the building at 2000 Belcourt in Hillsboro Village, which has housed many restaurants, including The Trace.
"Rodizio" roughly translates to rotisserie, Christy said. Skewers of various cuts of meat rotate in the grill, tended by cook-servers in gaucho attire who flamboyantly present the skewers to the tables, carving out successive rounds until diners signify satiety.
Airton grew up in Brazil, where his family has a couple of restaurants, and knows the rodizio ropes. They'll have a full bar, including caipirinha cocktails, and when the weather's nice they'll roll up the building's glass front to the open air. They may add a small patio by summertime. The target for opening is mid-March or early April.