Welcome to Wednesday. We're ready to charge ahead with gusto, despite the rain.

⛈ Today's weather: Showers and thunderstorms are likely, with a high of 83°.

Today's newsletter is 918 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: The Robby Starbuck quagmire

Photo: George Walker IV/The Tennessean/USA Today Network

Nearly six months after Republican legislators drew new congressional district boundaries for the Nashville area, it remains unsettled which GOP candidates will be on the U.S. House District 5 ballot.

Driving the news: Activist and first-time candidate Robby Starbuck sued the Tennessee Republican Party after its executive committee kicked him and two other candidates off the ballot.

  • The candidates were removed because they didn't meet the party's requirements of voting in three of the last four Republican primaries. Starbuck moved to Middle Tennessee from California in 2019.
  • Starbuck lost a federal lawsuit but won in local court last week when Chancellor Russell Perkins sided with him.
  • The state GOP appealed Perkins' ruling earlier this week.

Why it matters: The bitter fight over the redistricting process, quickly followed by the battle over if Starbuck should be allowed on the ballot, has created an air of disarray around the District 5 primary.

State of play: The District 5 seat has been represented by U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper since 2003, and by Democrats since the late 19th century.

  • But the redistricting process carved up Cooper's district to include conservative suburbs and rural areas, flipping it into a likely Republican seat. The new district spans parts of Davidson, Williamson, Wilson, Maury, Lewis and Marshall counties.
  • Cooper retired after the newly drawn lines were announced.

Between the lines: While Starbuck's status is decided in court, the top Republican contenders already on the ballot are former House Speaker Beth Harwell, Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles and Kurt Winstead, who is an attorney and retired National Guard brigadier general.

What we're watching: The state's top election officials, who are not a party to the lawsuit, filed a petition yesterday asking the appeals court to toss out Perkins' ruling.

  • Time is of the essence. The officials say ballots will begin being distributed by June 20.
  • Early voting for the primary begins July 15, and election day is Aug. 4.

2. Restaurant business roars back

Change in OpenTable restaurant bookings
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."

3. Nashville housing inventory expands

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Nashvillians looking to buy a home have more options now than they have in more than a year, but prices have reached an all-time high for the region.

  • The findings, released yesterday by Greater Nashville Realtors, show that inventory of single-family homes shot up 47% over the last month as high prices and interest rates reined in some buyers.

Why it matters: Low inventory has been a key factor complicating the market for buyers in Middle Tennessee, driving lightning-fast home sales. But the latest figures show the supply of homes for sale has grown to its highest level since November 2020.

What they're saying: Steve Jolly, Greater Nashville Realtors president, said the inventory bump could offer some relief to frustrated buyers who want time to breathe as they make their decision.

Yes, but: That relief comes with a cost. Nashville-area home prices have only continued to grow.

  • The median price for a residential single-family home was $498,785 in May, up from $400,000 a year ago.
  • The median cost for condominiums hit $340,506, up from $277,900 last year.

4. The Setlist

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🥃 Whisky Live USA, a two-day tasting and educational event drawing experts from around the world, is coming to Nashville next month. (Nashville Scene)

🏗 Gov. Bill Lee tapped his longtime aide Stuart McWhorter to replace departing economic development commissioner Bob Rolfe. (Tennessean)

⛽ The popular East Coast gas station and convenience store chain Wawa is plotting an expansion into Middle Tennessee, with its first store in the region expected in 2025. (WKRN)

On the job hunt?

👀 Check out who’s hiring on our Job Board.

  1. Senior Director, PR and Corporate Communications at Lifeway.
  2. Creator Partnerships Manager, Amazon Shopping Videos at Amazon.
  3. Director, Corporate Communications and Public Relations at HCA Healthcare.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a Job.

5. Throwing shade: Free trees from Root Nashville

A tree provided by Root Nashville. Photo: Nate Rau/Axios

Businesses, homeowners associations, places of worship and other private property owners are eligible for free trees under the Root Nashville program.

  • Administered by the nonprofit Cumberland River Compact, Root Nashville is accepting applications for private property owners seeking at least 10 trees.

Why it matters: The program, which is in partnership with Metro, is intended to increase Nashville's tree canopy. The goal is to plant 500,000 by 2050.

Details: Applications received by September will be eligible for the initial round of planting, which takes place October through March.

  • The winning applicants are responsible for coordinating the planting, but the trees will be delivered through Root Nashville.

💭 Nate's thought bubble: My neighborhood's HOA took advantage of the Root Nashville program last year. My backyard benefited from a beautiful elm that's growing at a ridiculous speed.

More information on Root Nashville, including how to apply.

📺 Nate is watching an unhealthy amount of TV with his family out of town — most recently the funny and disturbing Amazon Prime movie "Emergency."

🎞 Adam is relying on old favorites to make it through the week. His latest double feature was "Taken" followed by "The Devil Wears Prada."