A few months back, I told you about an intriguing project from two restaurant veterans: It’s called Lockeland Table Community Kitchen and Bar, and the owners are business partners Hal Holden-Bache (he’s the chef) and Cara Graham (she’s the general manager).
The two have completely renovated a 70-year-old storefront in the Lockeland Springs neighborhood of East Nashville, the former Boutique Coiffure building at Woodland and 16th streets. It’s been a pretty ambitious undertaking. They’ve restored the front of the building (smashed up long ago, as the legend goes, by a local motorist in a fit of romantic pique at one of the beauty shop’s customers), and they’re completely recasting the interior to be a bustling dining space with a brick pizza oven, a wide-open kitchen, a full bar and a variety of seating options that includes banquettes made from vintage wooden pews and a community table built out of barn wood from a Pegram property that’s been in Graham’s family for 150 years.
Holden-Bache is a classically trained chef who’s best known for running the kitchen at Willy Thomas’ popular Eastland Cafe from its launch in 2006 until last year. Graham is Eastland’s former general manager and a longtime restaurant veteran.
Because of Holden-Bache’s credentials and the duo’s work at Eastland, foodies have been avidly awaiting Lockeland Table — and they’ve had a good long while to experience that anticipation.
Slowed by various delays, Lockeland Table is opening a few months later than the rookie restaurant owners initially expected. “I’ve written so many menus,” Holden-Bache said with a laugh. “It was originally a late-winter menu, then spring, summer and now late summer.”
With a last-minute scramble to complete the interior, they expect to have a grand opening on Aug. 9, with some soft-opening events possibly leading up to that date.
Holden-Bache and Graham say they’ve appreciated the extra time they’ve had working toward the launch.
For one thing, the chef got a little more time to spend with his pregnant wife, Stacy. On June 14, she gave birth to their son, Cole Holden-Bache.
Graham said the restaurateurs got a chance to “revise and revise” their concept. “Every day is an evolution,” she said. They also used the extra time to line up regional farmers to supply local ingredients. “We’re trying to stay as close to home as possible,” Holden-Bache said.
In one particular coup, Holden-Bache said his friend Tyler Brown, chef at the Capitol Grille, has promised to provide ground beef and some produce from Glen Leven, the historic estate that Brown farms to supply his restaurant with ingredients.
And the Lockeland Table team has also used the time to add a concept: an afternoon happy hour with drinks and snacks to share from 4 to 6 p.m. There will also be a special after-9 menu that will include a limited number of late-night burgers — those are expected to be a hot ticket.
Holden-Bache is still not ready to spill many details about the menu, though it’s obvious there will be pizzas, of course. He promises a balance of comfort food and more adventurous culinary items.
Graham said they’ve also been able to spend time communicating with the neighbors. Not only have they attended neighborhood association meetings to give updates and answer questions, some of the neighbors have even been volunteering to help finish the restaurant’s interior.
Interesting twists include a handcrafted copper surround for the pizza oven, created by Graham’s mother and aunt, Debbie Graham and Linda Hobdy, who are professional metal artists known as the Twisted Sisters.
There’s also a wall decorated completely with reclaimed crown molding from a multitude of sources, and the team salvaged the building’s original tin ceiling to display on a wall.
The restaurant will seat around 90, with a patio accommodating around 40 more. Holden-Bache and Graham said they want the restaurant to be family-friendly, and he’s put together a kids’ menu.
Lockeland Table Community Kitchen and Bar is at 1520 Woodland St. For updates on the upcoming opening, check the Facebook page or follow them on Twitter, @lockelandtable.
The cork and the cow
Down south on Main Street in Franklin, another much-anticipated project is expected to open in mid-August. Chef Jason McConnell, the man behind Red Pony and 55 South, shut down his elevated Mexican joint, Sol, and is reopening the space as Cork & Cow, an Italian-influenced steakhouse.
As the name suggests, Cork & Cow has an emphasis on wine as well as beef.
McConnell’s 55 South shares part of the space at 403 Main St., so it was closed for a while to facilitate the renovations. It has reopened, but will serve dinner only (no lunch) until Cork & Cow is unveiled.
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