Oct 13, 2023 - Food and Drink

Nashville sees the rise of the 5pm dinner reservation

Dinner reservation times in Nashville
Data: Resy; Chart: Alice Feng/Axios

Nashville might be famous for its nightlife, but more and more people are getting their evening started before the sun goes down.

  • New data from Resy shows a surge in popularity for 5pm dinner reservations here and nationally.

Why it matters: Local restaurant workers tell Axios they're adapting to the shifting schedule. It's one of many ways the pandemic has changed our daily lives.

By the numbers: 5pm dinner reservations are more popular now than they've been in the last five years, according to the Resy data.

  • More than 17% of the city's Resy reservations were made during the 5 o'clock hour this year. That's a 3-point jump compared to 2019.
  • Every other time frame saw its share of dinner reservations shrink, although 6-7pm remains the most popular overall.

What they're saying: "Initially it was surprising, but now it's become something we're used to," Jon Murray, the owner of the new East Nashville restaurant Noko, tells Axios.

  • He says it's common for more than a dozen parties to show up for dinner at 5pm sharp.

State of plate: That hasn't always been the norm for Murray, who has worked in the restaurant industry for about 20 years. He says he's adjusted to the influx of early birds by pushing staff schedules a bit earlier.

  • Murray suspects the change is connected to the sturdy number of Nashvillians who have embraced working from home and might be eager for a change of scenery at the end of the workday.
  • "To me, that makes the most sense," he says. "They've been bottled up in their house all day. … Why not go have dinner? Why not go have a drink?"

Zoom out: Jake Mogelson, managing partner at Butcher & Bee, says earlier reservations have always had clout in Music City because diners often try to squeeze in a meal before a concert.

  • Like many other restaurants, his business started closing earlier during the pandemic — and stuck to it.
  • "Coming out of COVID, we made a conscious effort to improve the quality of life for our team, and part of that was ending service earlier," Mogelson says. "Our sales haven't dipped at all. In fact, they've increased."

The big picture: Eating dinner early could have benefits well beyond convenience, Axios' Carly Mallenbaum reports. Experts say it could benefit your metabolic health.


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