Updated: Apr 18
There is a new bar in the heart of Nashville — but you won’t hear any country music coming from the stage. Instead, the venue will showcase music from the era of swing, big band, jazz, and easy listening as a way to transport guests to another place and time. The Southern Turf building, which once housed a saloon in the 1800s and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is now the home of the Sinatra Bar & Lounge.
Icon Entertainment Group (which owns a handful of Music City’s most famous properties, including the Johnny Cash Museum and Nudie’s Honky Tonk) purchased the historic multi-story building in Printer's Alley for $6 million. Another $4.5 million was spent on renovations and furnishings to create the legacy property.
In an interview with Icon CEO Bill Miller, he told 615 Notes, “We kept it vacant for almost six years because we wanted to wait for the right concept to come along.” One of the reasons Miller embraced the Sinatra-themed concept was because he and Sinatra shared a love for Palm Springs, California — which was once known as the “playground of the stars.” Miller says, “I grew up in the desert, and Frank Sinatra embodied and defined that cool resort-like laidback life.”
The interior design and ambiance are designed to reflect Sinatra’s lifestyle — a blend of “Manhattan meets Palm Springs.” There is an upscale yet intimate vibe, with seating for 120 guests on three levels. The restaurant will serve many of the music icon’s favorites, including steaks, seafood, and Italian dishes. In honor of Sinatra’s signature song, the old-school cocktail menu offers numerous options for ordering a martini "My Way." General Manager Jacob Jones says guests will fill out a card to choose custom ingredients — such as olives stuffed with lemon, blue cheese, goat cheese, or roasted garlic.
Photographs from Sinatra’s life adorn the mahogany walls of the lounge. The pictures include famous friends such as Joe DiMaggio, Tony Bennett, and members of the Rat Pack. Hanging over the bar is an original oil painting by Sinatra that previously hung in his Palm Springs home. On a shelf below that painting sits an array of Jack Daniel’s products, including the limited-edition Sinatra Century whiskey —which sells for $250 a shot and was a special 100-proof blend made to commemorate what would have been Sinatra’s 100th birthday. By the way, that’s the same whiskey the executives made a toast with to celebrate signing the licensing agreement between Icon and Frank Sinatra Enterprises.
The venue auditioned musicians and singers for their newly created house band — the Frank Sinatra Trio. Jay Vernali (piano) and Matt McKenzie (upright bass) had previously played at another Icon-owned property (Skull's Rainbow Room). Singer Ryan Driscoll saw a billboard for the future Sinatra Bar & Lounge when he first moved to Nashville a couple years ago. After numerous phone calls, emails, and auditions, he landed the job of his dreams. In the video clip below, the trio talks about the kind of music they will — and won’t — play.
The Sinatra Bar & Lounge opened to the public April 15, 2023 and is located at 222 Fourth Avenue North. For more information, go to https://www.sinatranashville.com
FUN FACTS AND TRIVIA
Years ago, when Icon CEO Bill Miller’s family lived in Palm Springs, his father met Frank Sinatra in the men’s restroom at Tony Roma’s
From the late 1880’s until the Prohibition era, the city block that included the Southern Turf Saloon was known as the “gentlemen’s quarter.” It was a seedy area where drinking, gambling, and prostitution thrived.
Frank Sinatra performed at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House for one night in 1976. He was accompanied by Count Bassie and his orchestra. Country star Charlie Daniels was in the audience.
Sinatra worked with country artists Willie Nelson, Lorrie Morgan, George Strait, and others.