The Food Biz: Germantown East sold

After tragic death, partner sells popular Fifth and Main restaurant

Chris Lowry, owner of pioneering restaurant Germantown Café, is selling his second location, Germantown Café East, which fills a ground-floor dining room at the Fifth and Main condominium development in East Nashville.

Emmanuel “Manny” Hatz, a Nashville restaurateur and resident of the building, is purchasing Germantown East, and will reopen it as a new concept in October. Hatz said the name, menu and other details will be announced later.

Meanwhile, Lowry said the popular original Germantown location is poised to reopen Tuesday after a brief renovation. A newly promoted chef, Jeff Martin, will be at the helm.

Germantown East has been closed since June, when a freak accident there claimed the life of the restaurants’ co-founder, Jay Luther. (While Lowry ran the front of the house, Luther was the talent behind the Germantown menu and oversaw both kitchens.)

Luther was found dead in a walk-in cooler, trapped by a faulty door. Investigators later determined that he died from accidental suffocation by inhalation of carbon dioxide. (Dry ice, which was being used in the cooler, exudes carbon dioxide and displaces oxygen in the confined space.)

The death was a shocking jolt to the restaurant community. Hatz said he hopes to be mindful of Luther’s legacy.

“As someone who spent many a lunch and dinner hour dining and meeting in Germantown Café East, I was able to see firsthand the beautiful restaurant Chris and Jay created,” Hatz said.

Hatz is a veteran of the software industry who now owns Jet’s Pizza locations in the greater Nashville area, as well as Shipwreck Cove, a restaurant at Elm Hill Marina.

He said when Lowry approached him about buying the cafe, “I was faced with both a personal and business decision.”

“It felt like the right thing to do,” he said. “Working with Chris step by step to formulate a plan for moving forward was also the right thing to do. I am carefully constructing a concept that both honors them and takes a step toward the future.”

Luther and Lowry were pioneers in the revitalization of the Germantown neighborhood when they opened the original Germantown Café in 2003.

In late 2008, they opened the second restaurant at Fifth and Main streets, another evolving neighborhood. The concept was originally the French-bistro-influenced Allium; the duo successfully reworked it and reopened it as Germantown East last year.

Lowry said he’s back on the job full time at the original Germantown Café at 1200 Fifth Ave. N., welcoming friends and loyal customers, and he hopes the place will hit the ground running after the weeklong closure to spruce up the 9-year-old cafe.

Martin, who had been Luther’s executive sous chef, is now in charge of the kitchen.

“I’m really excited to be moving forward,” Lowry said. “Partly because it’s the business Jay and I opened, and partly to maintain his memory.”

To help continue the legacy of Jay Luther, his family and friends have set up a scholarship fund at the Randy Rayburn Institute of Culinary Arts at Nashville State Community College.

Hatz has said he will contribute to the fund, which Lowry manages.

Lowry said Hatz “understands and respects local business and the vibrancy that East Nashville embodies.”

“It’s especially meaningful that he is committed to preserving Jay’s memory through support of the foundation I started in his honor,” he added.

 

A veteran French chef has opened an eatery inside the Nashville Farmers’ Market, serving lunch Monday through Friday, including creative daily quiche specials, salads and classic French entrees like coq au vin.

Fleur de Lys Cuisine is the project of French chef Patrick Poumey and his wife Jennifer (pictured). Chef Poumey is a native of France who has cooked and owned restaurants around the world. His wife is an American who’s lived in California and the Nashville area.

Their business is also a catering and events company. They opened the “pop-up restaurant” at the Farmers’ Market about a month ago.

Jennifer Poumey said they see it as a steppingstone to eventually opening a full-service restaurant in a different location.

Meanwhile, the lunches they’re serving up are pretty eye-popping. A recent special was smoked-duck quiche topped with shallot confit and served with a multifarious side salad of fresh greens, asparagus, tomatoes, green beans, strawberries, blueberries and more.

“Each plate is like a little work of art,” she said. Other specialties include the aforementioned coq au vin, a “huge, beautiful filet of beef,” and dessert crepes. The chef will soon roll out “amazing soups” made with the bounty of autumn produce in the market.

Fleur de Lys Cuisine is open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. inside the Nashville Farmers’ Market, 900 Rosa L. Parks Blvd. Check facebook.com/fleurdelyscuisine for updates.

 

Back in April, I briefly noted that Jan and Bernie Strawn, owners of the popular Mack & Kate’s in Franklin and Macke’s in Green Hills, were staking out space in Cummins Station downtown.

At that time, the Strawns gave few details, not even the project’s name. Now it has been revealed: M. Restaurant & Bar. The Strawns also gave a description of the food: “a menu of contemporary inspired Southern cuisine and a few international influenced surprises thrown in the mix.”

The new place is going in right in the center of the Cummins Station storefronts facing 10th Avenue South. Construction is under way, and the Strawns said the new space will have an open, contemporary feel and a chef’s bar, and will seat around 100.

The project belongs to an accelerating trend of new restaurants in the SoBro neighborhood hoping to serve the expected boom of customers once the Music City Center opens. It’s also across the street from a brand-new cafe, Coffee, Lunch., about which I reported here last week.

We’re told M. will be open every day, serving lunch, dinner, extended Sunday brunch and a late-night menu. M. Restaurant and Bar is expected to open Nov. 1 at 209 10th Ave. S., Suite 223 in Cummins Station.

There will be a sneak peek in mid-October, when M. will host an open house to meet the SoBro neighbors and offer a food and drink tasting to benefit Linda’s Hope, a foundation that offers support for those affected by pancreatic cancer.