Big River Expands and Rebrands as Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery


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After almost 18 years as an anchor of the downtown dining scene, the parent company of Big River Grille has decided it's time for a change. Back in 2010, Centerbridge Capital purchased Rock Bottom Restaurants, which was the operating company behind Big RIver and Old Chicago. They also bought Gordon Biersch at the same time, giving them a pretty respectable market share of the chain brewpub sector under the name Craftworks Restaurants.

More importantly, their restaurants have a reputation for brewing some award-winning beers, particularly under the Rock Bottom brands. While I always enjoyed Big River as a nice place to grab a bite and a brew before a Predators game, I never particularly recommended that folks go out of their way to try one of Big River's craft beers when there are so many great local options out there.

So it should be good news that Big RIver is being transformed into a Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery. Not only will they offer a new slate of beers and dining menu items, but they plan to add 50 percent to the size and seating of the restaurant by opening a new rooftop bar. They'll also add 45 new jobs to the current staff of 75, so that's something I can get behind.

The new rooftop bar will offer panoramic views of Broadway, Second Avenue, the Cumberland River and LP Field, as well as lounge seating and a fire pit. Group event space will be available on the rooftop facility for those seeking an outdoor spot to party downtown.

“The rooftop space is very unique in Nashville, hosting many weddings and other group events,” said Robert Werk, senior vice president of operations. “We hope to continue that tradition for our Nashville guests as well as provide a premier everyday venue for lunch, dinner or a drink.”

The new drink menu promises a greater variety of beers, including in-house brewed ales and lagers and a larger selection of craft beers, which should address one of Big River's shortcomings. In fact, the only thing I can find to complain about is that I won't be able to use my favorite description of how to find one of my favorite burgers in Nashville, "It's between Big River and the big river." I'll have to think of another clever way to get folks to The National Underground.

But stop by Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery first. They aim for the conversion to be open by early next month.


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