Axios Nashville

Picture of the Nashville skyline.
January 25, 2022

It's Tuesday, and you know what that means: another newsletter!

Situational awareness: Tennessee lawmakers last night cast a final vote approving a redistricting map that splits Nashville among three congressional districts. The plan now goes to Gov. Bill Lee.

Today's newsletter is 900 words — a 3.3-minute read.

1 big thing: Hip Donelson gets hipper

Exterior shot of a one story building under construction.
Construction of the new development coming to Donelson. Photo courtesy of Bill Darsinos

Donelson will welcome a new sports bar, Italian restaurant, and contemporary barbershop as part of a creative retail project expected to open in the coming months.

  • The development is spearheaded by the Darsinos family, who has launched popular local eateries including Greko in East Nashville and Darfons in Donelson.

Why it matters: Bill Darsinos tells Axios the development is his most ambitious project to date.

  • It continues the growth of the "hip Donelson" marketing strategy of the last decade that has seen quirky restaurants, coffee shops, and bars thrive in the neighborhood.

State of play: TennFold brewery and pizza joint, Nectar Urban Cantina, Caliber Coffee, and Phat Bites bar and sandwich shop headline the list of recent successful Donelson restaurants.

Driving the news: The Darsinos' development will be anchored by two restaurants: a sports bar called Greeno and Shorty's, a collaboration with Martin's barbeque owner Pat Martin, and Italian food concept Salento Italia.

  • "We want Greeno and Shorty's to be family-friendly," Darsinos says. "Obviously a bunch of TVs, as well as plenty of outdoor seating and activities for kids."
  • Salento Italia will feature a full bar and be "heavy on wine and cocktails."
  • One other major restaurant tenant is finalizing its lease, and the project will also feature a Scout's barbershop, Darsinos says.

What he's saying: At Greko, the family has mastered quick, casual but high-quality street food. Darsinos says he doesn't believe Nashville has anything like the Salento Italia concept.

  • "It's going to be a cool, unique restaurant with a new Italian vibe," Darsinos says. "We are not going to have a big menu. And it's not going to be expensive — so family-friendly as far as pricing is concerned. That's our driving force. We don't want to be a special occasion restaurant."

Between the lines: Darsinos is partnering with his brother Sam Darsinos and cousin-in-law Jaima Darsinos for the Donelson project, the biggest in scale for a family who has powered local restaurants for more than 30 years.

  • Darfons opened in 1989, and Darsinos' father and uncles also ran pizza restaurants across Middle Tennessee. Southside Grill anchors the family's retail development on Nolensville Road in South Nashville.

Go deeper: Darsinos wants to create "a draw for the community"

2. Waffle House trial jury selection starts

A photo of a waffle house restaurant with a police cruiser parked in front.
Police investigating the 2018 shooting at a Waffle House. Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP

Attorneys are set today to begin questioning up to 190 potential jurors in the murder trial of Travis Reinking, who is accused of killing four people at a Nashville Waffle House in 2018.

  • The unusually large jury pool reflects the high-profile nature of a case that has been a prominent news story for nearly four years.

State of play: Reinking's criminal case file is sealed and attorneys are barred from discussing it publicly, so much about the developing strategies and pre-trial debate has been shielded from view.

Between the lines: The case was delayed after a judge ruled Reinking needed to be committed and treated for schizophrenia before a trial could move forward.

The details: Reinking faces more than a dozen criminal charges related to the shooting. Authorities say he walked into the restaurant on the morning of April 22, 2018 and unleashed a torrent of bullets before customer James Shaw Jr. jumped up to stop him.

  • Reinking, 32, is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Akilah DaSilva, 23; DeEbony Groves, 21; Joe Perez, 20; and Taurean Sanderlin, 29.

3. Nashville skyline draws Dylan back

Bob Dylan smiling on stage
Photo: Chris Pizzello/AP

Bob Dylan is returning to Nashville in March to play at The Ryman Auditorium.

  • He is the latest in a series of megawatt artists to choose the intimate and historic venue over larger options.

Why it matters: Even in Nashville, it's not every day an iconic, era-defining Nobel laureate comes to town.

The details: Dylan is set to bring his "Rough and Rowdy Ways" tour here on March 23.

  • Ticket sales start Friday.

4. The Setlist

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

TBI agents arrested a man wanted in connection with the death of a Robertson County sheriff's deputy who was found shot inside her burning home. (News Channel 5)

Most of the requests to switch schools to virtual learning because of COVID-19 are coming from rural and suburban districts. (The Tennessean, subscription)

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would offer school vouchers to families whose districts don't offer year-round in-person learning. (Chalkbeat Tennessee)

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5. Lee weighs in on Nashville hosting Super Bowl

A candid photo of Gov Bill lee speaking
Photo: Mark Humphrey/AP

Gov. Bill Lee on Monday told the Rotary Club of Nashville he's open to discussions about hosting the Super Bowl.

  • Responding to a question from a Rotary member, Lee explained, "Getting the Super Bowl to a city like this would require major partnerships and significant investment. That will probably be talked about in the months and years ahead."

Why it matters: Pointing to the impact of the Titans, Predators, and Memphis Grizzlies, Lee says pro sports will continue to play a big role in the state's tourism strategy.

What he's saying: Lee also acknowledged that his administration has been engaged in talks with various groups about other investment opportunities in pro sports.

  • "The state has been engaged in NASCAR talks with funding around NASCAR," Lee says. "We've been engaged multiple times with arrangements with the Titans and the development around the Titans' stadium, and with Bridgestone over the years."
  • Lee also expressed enthusiasm for Nashville landing a MLB franchise - a concept that has been discussed for several years.
  • "There are groups that are interested in Major League Baseball coming to Nashville - I think that would be awesome," Lee says. "It requires partnerships."

Nate is happy to be reminded after the Packers loss that football brings about more than misery.

ğŸŽ­ Adam was transfixed by this interview with actress Christine Baranski.