The tiny venue made famous in ABC's Nashville had been closed since March 12 due to the pandemic.

By Lynette Rice
July 18, 2021 at 11:17 AM EDT
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ABC's "Nashville" - Season One
Credit: Bob D'Amico/ABC via Getty Images

All that was missing was Deacon and Rayna singing "No One Will Ever Love You."

The Bluebird Cafe of Nashville – the tiny storefront venue made internationally famous in ABC's Nashville – reopened its doors to customers this weekend. The full-service restaurant that also happens to host extraordinary songwriters had been closed since March 12 due to the pandemic, so folks were eager to pack the place to enjoy good eats and great music from the likes of Jelly Roll Johnson, JT Harding, Chris DeStefano, and Brett James.

Many small businesses didn't survive the pandemic but The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville's Green Hills neighborhood is in a unique position. "We are in a building owned by our founder so we have a little bit of safety," General Manager Erika Wollam Nichols tells EW. "We're like the last remaining strip mall in Green Hills and developers are all or the place. So there's a bit of a risk."

But it's highly doubtful the country music industry would ever let the Bluebird fly away; the venue not only offers a place for up-and-coming songwriters, but it has also hosted some of country music's biggest talent. Garth Brooks was discovered at The Bluebird Cafe; one of his songwriters, Kent Blazy, actually performed Saturday night and told stories about writing for the multi-platinum artist. Money collected at the door goes to the artists while the Bluebird survives on serving food and selling (in-demand) merchandise.

"I can't imagine that our loyal fans, friends, anybody would let us go down," admits Nichols.

Finding established songwriters to perform for opening weekend was a little bit of a challenge, says Nichols, since social distancing is not possible in the venue. The Bluebird Cafe can host 90 patrons at tables and church pews that are all tightly packed around the small stage. Other than the employees, no one was wearing a mask during Saturday's performance.

Still, adds Nichols, "Getting songwriters to play in Nashville is very easy. It's different than, say, The Troubadour [in West Hollywood, CA] where they have a lot more touring acts coming through."

And yes, there are still plenty of people who come to The Bluebird Cafe simply because they were fans of Nashville, which aired on ABC from 2012 to 2018. One of the most indelible scenes from the drama that started Connie Britton and Charles Esten was when the two performed "No One Will Ever Love You" at The Bluebird Cafe.

"It's certainly not the frenzy that it was when the show was new but I think it's just wrapped up airing in Europe, so we have had a lot of European fans more recently," says Nichols. "There are still folks who heard about it on the television show and are just waiting to make their way here." 

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