Why Kid Rock’s Honky-Tonk Is Finally Shutting Its Doors Temporarily

One Patron's Memory of the Polio Epidemic Made Bar Owner Reluctant to Shut Down

When the destructive, devastating and deadly tornado touched down in Nashville earlier this month, Kid Rock was one of the first stars to be there for the city. “Whatever needs to be done to help Tennessee and the people she holds hit by last night’s devastating storm, count me in. God Bless Nashville,” Kid Rock tweeted the morning after, on March 3.

But it took the co-owner of Kid Rock‘s Big Ass Honky Tonk & Rock ‘n’ Roll Steakhouse in downtown Nashville a while to feel that same let’s-do-the-right-thing vibe about the latest threat to Music City.

According to Variety, after pressure from the city and even the tourists, the honky-tonk is now closed.

Initially, the Big Ass Honky Tonk & Rock ‘n’ Roll co-owner Steve Smith said “no thanks” to Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s request to close all bars and limit the number of people dining at restaurants. On Sunday (March 15), Smith said that the venue planned to stay open unless there was a statewide mandate. Smith is also part owner of Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, Rippy’s and Honky Tonk Central.

“We appreciate the efforts of Mayor Cooper to combat the COVID-19 virus,” Smith had said, “but unless there’s a statewide mandate that directs all bars and restaurants to be closed (which is happening in multiple cities across the country) the request made by Mayor Cooper is unconstitutional as he is targeting a select group of businesses.” Smith went on to say, “We are compassionate with all those who have contracted the COVID-19 coronavirus and all who are helping manage the crisis as the entire world addresses the outbreak. However, a Tootsie’s patron as immediate as last night mentioned having lived through the polio epidemic and didn’t recall such extreme measures being handed down in history.”

And then came this:

“In cooperation with the Mayor’s office, Tootsie’s, Honky Tonk Central and Kid Rock’s Honky Tonk have closed to help protect the public health,” Variety reported.

Stay tuned for more details on additional bar and restaurant closings (and re-openings).

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.
@alisonbonaguro