Pretty girls sporting bedazzled cowboy boots, rowdy guys double-fisting beers, and music sprinkled with steel guitars blasting from all directions sounds like a fantasy created by the lyrics of a country song, right? Well, Lower Broadway tends to make that fantasy a reality for many tourists on any given night of the week. Because of its stereotypical country-meets-touristy atmosphere, Lower Broadway is often overlooked by Nashville locals when it comes to choosing the night’s watering hole, but what many locals have yet to realize is that a new bar is on the block, and it may be serving up just what natives are looking for.
Some nights do call for drunkenly singing “Friends in Low Places” with newly-discovered fraternity brothers visiting from Wisconsin in a smoky, neon-lit honky-tonk. Stories like that are what make Lower Broadway so special, but nowadays Lower Broadway is not all about decades-old honky-tonks. Take newly opened Acme Feed & Seed, for example. Located about as far down Broadway as possible in an old flour warehouse, Acme sets the mood as soon as the visitor walks through the door.
Even for a Wednesday night, it is buzzing. The place is huge and spacious, but it still feels inviting because of the amount of people mingling. The first floor, equipped with two bars, is the main eating area. Diners order at the front and are given a number to place on their table while awaiting the food. The menu is traditional southern fare with gourmet twists such as farm-raised catfish with hush puppies and ribs with seasoned macaroni and cheese. Well past 10 p.m. diners were enjoying their meals and chatting over craft beers. Acme boasts twenty-eight regional craft beers, on that note.
The second floor is more of a lounge with tucked-away seating areas for small groups. The feel on this level was a bit more like date night. Men in pastel button down shirts with perfectly messy hair leaned in closely to whisper to their dates. Where the downstairs felt more like the place to guzzle down a chilly beer, this floor called for visitors to order finely crafted cocktails. Off in the corner, a few college aged guys circled vintage arcade games, jeering at one’s low score.
ELEVATING THE EXPERIENCE
Just the way the first and second floor were largely different from each other, the third floor revealed yet another personality of the Acme. The third floor, aptly named The Hatchery because prior to becoming a restaurant, the building was called Acme Feed & Hatchery, serves as the music venue. That Wednesday night, the bands had been scheduled for earlier so no music was playing, but it was not hard to imagine what it would be like if the space had been taken over by a rousing band and tipsy dancers. Hailed as the largest single level event space in the city, Acme elevates itself from not just a bar, not just a restaurant, not just music hall, not just a trendy spot, but all of these things in one. If you thought it stopped there, think again.
Finally, if between multiple drinks on each level, one actually ventures to the final story, the rooftop bar awaits. The rooftop bar feels far more Los Angeles than it does Nashville with its DJ dance parties and morning workout routines, but nonetheless, it is oh so right. Most of the crowd had remained on one of the lower three levels, so the roof was refreshingly sparse. A few people lingered around the bar while others took in the gorgeous and unobstructed views of the Cumberland River and the rest of Lower Broadway. All four levels of Acme Feed & Seed are so different, but they all work together like puzzle pieces creating this inviting, sophisticated yet still somewhat raucous vibe.
Beyond serving food and alcohol, Acme can be rented out for private events for any number of people. The first floor also includes a small gift shop that sells local artisan products so that even visitors on a time crunch can take away a little piece of Acme.
Lower Broadway is a destination all its own and certainly has something for the first time visitors to Nashville and the seasoned veterans. From staples like Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge to The Stage to newer, trendier places like Acme, anyone can whet their Nashville appetite on Lower Broadway. And for the hardcore honky-tonk attendees that think Acme may be a bit too high brow for them, let it be known that country music legend Alan Jackson is a primary investor in Acme Feed & Seed.
Acme Feed & Seed is located at 101 Broadway and is open daily from 11 a.m. to close, which is not exactly specified. All of Lower Broadway truly is a treat, albeit not always for the faint of heart, and Acme is just another fun place to add to the list next to Robert’s Western World. Locals and tourists alike should take to the slightly different and much-needed atmosphere on Lower Broadway that Acme provides.