Live from Music Row Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Nashville Boutique Venue Owner Dan Cook to the newsmakers line.
During the third hour, Cook told Leahy about where his business stood in Nashville’s unfair phase openings. He noted that Broadway, which has larger capacities, would be allowed to open up in phase three but private events would still suffer.
Leahy: We are joined now by our good friend Dan Cook who owns a couple of private venues here in Nashville. Ruby and Clementine. Dan, we’re still in phase two of Mayor John Cooper’s sort of authoritarian non-fact based determination to squelch private venues. Do you have anything new to report on what’s going on with private venues here?
Cook: Wow. Great question. So we are still in the purgatory of phase two. Apparently any day now we’re going to find out if he will let us move to phase three. And in phase three we are still the private event world slated to have very few people allowed at private events such as weddings.
The way I describe it is we are still distantly the bars on Broadway. So we are not only last in line but we don’t even see the line in front of us which is obviously grossly unfair in our estimation. And of course, the music venues and private event spaces in this town in large part make Nashville, Nashville. We’re still limited to 25 people at an event that is clearly not put on by the mayor himself. (Leahy chuckles)
Leahy: If the mayor attends an event with thousands of Black Lives Matter protesters, that’s OK. Somehow there is a waiver for that. Does that seem like inconsistency on your part? (Cook chuckles) On his part? Do you?
Cook: I think you answered the question yourself there. (Leahy chuckles) Inconsistency is a gentle way to put it and should there in fact be a flair up and just a cause to keep the city locked down and keep my business shut down for longer?
Leahy: Have you considered holding a riot in your venues? (Cook laughs) Apparently, that would be ok.
Cook: I had a positive thought the other day that if we are actually looking to host the Republican National Convention than maybe we’ll keep our timeline and open up. But now I’m thinking that this is a great excuse to keep the city locked down through August.
Leahy: I think you’re probably right in that regard. You know the mayor cares about everybody and wants to talk to everybody. I know you’ve tried to communicate with him. Has he deigned to communicate with you?
Cook: So we have had some communication which is a breakthrough after three weeks. And one person who owns a venue in town was contacted by the health department. And they started negotiating with us. And what they offered and this has not been made public but what they offered was to allow us to open at 50 percent capacity in phase three which is consistent with the bars on Broadway.
Which is seemingly great news that we catch up to the back of the line. However, what they want to do is they can never give something without getting something. It’s the way of government. So what they want to do is then cap that number at 250 people or 200 people.
Now that may seem reasonable but realize that I could go into a Honkey tonk downtown in phase three that may have a capacity of 4,000 and yet only have 2,000 people in there of perfect strangers. Whereas we cannot have a private wedding for over 200 to 250 in the next phase if they make this change which they’ve promised but they haven’t made public. So we’ll see.
Leahy: So when is phase three supposedly going to be announced by King John?
Cook: Well, we all thought phase three would go into effect on Monday but of course, that decision was delayed. Who knows when he’ll make the decision. I’ve bet poorly all through this process but I would suspect probably Monday or Tuesday because he needs to be seen as his own man.
Leahy: Are you expecting phase three to be announced? And when would you expect phase three to go into effect?
Cook: I’m optimistic it will be announced who knows it could be as early as today but maybe Monday. Certainly not over the weekend. I would suspect it would go into effect a couple of days later. Giving business time to prepare has not been part of the calculus here.
Leahy: How has this affected bookings for venues like Ruby and Clementine that you own and other private venues in Nashville where 20,000 people are employed one way or the other?
Cook: It has devastated caterers, bartenders, photographers, transportation companies, they are all flat on their back. Look, I think when this is all said and done maybe a third of them go out of business. There is literally blood in the streets.
Carmichael: That is so unnecessary and it’s so sad. And it’s incomprehensible to me that the public officials can see what they’re doing to other human beings and then just keep doing it. There is no logic behind it. There is obviously isn’t any logic behind it because all of these protesters are surging in groups and I’m talking about the protesters, not the looters.
The peaceful protesters were in groups of tens of thousands. And the very people who are telling people like you that you can’t have more than a certain small number of people in one place those very same people actually stand up and I’m not talking about just Mayor Cooper, this is true with mayors and governors all across the country. They are happy to stand up in front of those groups of ten thousand people and give a speech.
And then turn right around and tell people like you mentioned who are just trying to make a living and the photographers and the caterers and all of the people that you mentioned that they can’t earn a living and put food on their table. The inhumanity of it is just breathtaking. How many of those 20,000 people when you count the caterers and their staff and all the different people, how large of a minority group do you think are in that 20,000 people?
Cook: Oh, a huge percentage. A third.
Carmichael: OK. So here you have the people who are standing up saying we need to have social justice and we need to lift up the black and the minority community. Then those very same people crush them. They crush them with these policies and they know it!
It is so contrary to the way the average person treats their fellow human being. I don’t understand it. I’d love for the mayor to come on because I would just ask him to tell us how he thinks about that. Tell us how you think about how you allow protesters to come together and not only allow them but extoll them.
Leahy: Encourage them.
Carmichael: Encourage them.
Leahy: And invite everybody to join you as you join them.
Carmichael: But then you turn right around and destroyed the lives of many minorities a lot of whom might actually be in the audience. And you do that and you do it on purpose. When you have these edicts they are purposeful by definition. They are purposeful. It’s not a hurricane. So anyway. I’m blathering on here like Joe Biden. (Leahy chuckles)
Cook: He’s had three or four weeks of rational arguments to confront and make course corrections and he has at this point sadly and willfully ignored them. And why I don’t know. And Crom, I can only come to the same conclusion that you have.
Leahy: Dan Cook, the owner of Ruby and Clementine and the voice of the voiceless I guess. (Cook chuckles) The voices that Mayor Cooper won’t listen too. The private venue folks of 20,000 people here in Nashville. Dan, come back next week and tell us what’s going on.
Cook: You got it guys.
Listen to the third hour here:
– – –
Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “The Clementine” by Nashville Boutique Venues.