Jun 8, 2022 - Food and Drink

Challenges come with Nashville's restaurant resurgence

Data: OpenTable; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Business is booming at Nashville restaurants, with data from OpenTable showing reservations here exceeding a pre-COVID baseline in recent months.

Why it matters: Restaurants struggled throughout the pandemic as traffic bottomed out and then seesawed with the rise and fall of infections. While crowds are still fluctuating, they are consistently higher than they were.

What they're saying: Restaurateur Randy Rayburn tells Axios business at Midtown Cafe is on track to be 87% above 2019 numbers.

  • "It's unbelievable, particularly given the impact that Omicron had on us in January," Rayburn says.

Yes, but: Business isn't the only thing on the upswing. Costs have gone up, too.

  • "It's a bit deceiving," Jake Mogelson, managing partner at Butcher & Bee in East Nashville, tells Axios.
  • With the cost of goods and labor going up, Mogelson says, it's "a really difficult scenario to still be profitable, even with this dramatic influx."

State of play: Mogelson says the prices of kitchen staples like fryer oil have skyrocketed, while other ingredients, including cream cheese, have become scarce without warning.

The bottom line: “I can confidently state that we are busy," Mogelson says.

  • "We solved one problem, and it seems like there's a different one we have to solve now."

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