Kid Rock's Big Ass Honky Tonk in Nashville relents, closes over coronavirus
After initially defying a request from Nashville Mayor John Cooper to close bars and limit the number of people dining at restaurants to slow the spread of coronavirus, the owner of Kid Rock's Big Ass Honky Tonk & Rock 'n' Roll Steakhouse has voluntarily shut its doors for the time being.
Steve Meisner, attorney for Steve Smith, said in a statement to EW on Monday, "Mr. Smith and his establishments are voluntarily complying with the directives of the CDC and local government." He added, "We are all very concerned for the heath and welfare of the Nashville community. We are equally concerned with the ability of our 800+ employees to weather this event with no pay. The hospitability industry is taking a huge hit."
Meisner said they hope to reopen Kid Rock's soon with recommended restrictions such as 50% capacity and deep cleaning.
A day earlier, Smith had released a statement calling Mayor Cooper's request "unconstitutional" and saying he would not close his establishments unless there was a statewide mandate.
Kid Rock, real name Robert James Richie, did not respond to request for comment on the situation.
The Tennessee Department of Health reported 52 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state as of Monday. Nashville is still recovering from a tornado that ravaged the area March 3, with speeds clocking in as high as 165 mph. Dozens were killed, including five children under the age of 13. Smith presented Cooper with a $100,000 check to help the community in recovery.
The four-story Kid Rock's venue opened in October 2018 and cost an estimated $20 million. Multiple outlets have billed country/rock singer Kid Rock as either a partner or collaborator of co-owners Smith and Al Ross, the latter of whom died in 2019. It is not uncommon for celebrities to license out their names, though Kid Rock's affiliation with the restaurant is not quite clear.
Kid Rock told The Tennessean of his partnership with his longtime friend Smith and Ross on the Nashville hot spot in June 2018, “I’m scared to put my name on anything because my name is on it. If I put my stamp on it and have a vision for it and it’s something that’s detrimental, it’s not worth the money or risk. At this point, I don’t need to take risks. I want to do things that are fun and with good people."
This story has been updated with information about the voluntarily closure of Kid Rock's Big Ass Honky Tonk on Monday.
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