The Food Biz: Social experiment

Catbird team plans Pinewood Social in Trolley Barns

The Music City Center is officially open, and the pace of restaurant news in the surrounding neighborhoods hasn’t let up.

This week we got word of two big projects within a few blocks of the center: a unique project on Rolling Mill Hill from the team behind The Catbird Seat and Patterson House; and a new fine dining restaurant coming to Terrazzo in The Gulch, with a couple well-known restaurant folks at the helm.

The first new project is Pinewood Social, from entrepreneur brothers Benjamin and Max Goldberg of Strategic Hospitality. It will fill one of the historic Trolley Barns at Rolling Mill Hill.

It’s being billed as an all-around hang-out, partly inspired by the vibe at lively gathering places attached to hip spots like the Public Hotel in Chicago or various Ace hotels.

Not only does Pinewood plan to serve food — a menu of breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night snacks designed by Catbird chef Josh Habiger, and cocktails similar to the offerings at Patterson House — it will have lots of space to converse and be entertained, including bowling lanes and a swimming pool.

“The relaxed indoor space will flow outside to an outdoor patio, complete with a four-foot-deep swimming pool that will serve as the centerpiece to casual dining and socializing,” the company said in a release.

Rolling Mill Hill is a mixed-use development in SoBro with apartments, offices and studios; some of the structures are modern, and some are renovated historic buildings.

Pinewood Social is expected to open at 33 Peabody St. in early fall.

• The next newly announced project won’t arrive until 2014, but it sounds pretty noteworthy.

Miranda Whitcomb Pontes, the restaurateur behind Burger Up — the popular farm-to-table burger spot in 12South — is joining forces with chef Sal Avila to open the new venture, called Prima, in the ground floor of Terrazzo condominiums in the Gulch.

The project is under the banner of a new restaurant group, Community Hospitality, which teams Pontes with entrepreneur Jim Lewis, a technology and health care veteran who is managing partner and CEO of Cumberland Consulting Group. Avila, meanwhile, is a respected local chef whose résumé includes stints cooking at such diverse places as City House, 360 Bistro and his own Jay Jay’s Good Food Truck.

Prima will have a “modern fine-dining menu” and an “advanced wine program,” according to the company’s announcement.

Avila said the cuisine will be “farmer-defined,” with an emphasis on fresh local vegetables. Prima is expected to open at 700 12th Ave. S. in the Gulch sometime in early 2014.

• Also news this week: A very worthy business, Thistle Stop Café, officially opened Tuesday on Charlotte Pike.

As my colleague Abby White reported on the Scene’s Bites blog, it’s a new venture from nonprofit Thistle Farms. The cafe is next to Thistle Farms’ headquarters, which includes a facility for manufacturing bath and body care products and papermaking and sewing studios.

The cafe is operated by residents and graduates of Magdalene, the residential program of Thistle Farms, which offers food, housing, therapy, education and job training for women recovering from prostitution, addiction and life on the streets.

At the cafe’s ribbon-cutting last week, Thistle Farms’ founder Becca Stevens said: “The theme is a story in every cup. A story of what redemption and healing looks like ... for every single person in here. We can always come together and love each other.”

In addition to gourmet coffee and tea, the menu includes vegan and gluten-free bakery items from Vegan Vee and sandwiches and salads from Arnold Myint’s AM@FM.

The Thistle Stop Café is located at 5128 Charlotte Pike and is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.