2nd Avenue restaurants bond in ‘shared trauma’ of Christmas bombing in Nashville, TN

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WKRN) – As we approach a year since the Christmas Day bombing in downtown Nashville, restaurants are still picking up the pieces. Even those with minimal cosmetic damage did not fully recover. This coupled with the pandemic made a difficult year for restaurants on 2nd Avenue.

Chef Matthew Bell is an artist and Gray & Dudley Restaurant is where he does his best work. Gray & Dudley is a thriving restaurant inside the 21C hotel on historic 2nd Avenue. But on Christmas Day 2020, all of that got compromised.

Even though Gray & Dudley is a tenth of a mile from the bombing site, they still sustained some damage. The front door was blown through the restaurant, damage was seen throughout the historic building, and windows were blown across the street and still have not been repaired.

“You know, I think we were very lucky. Most of our damage was superficial, ”said Bell. “Just the idea that we were all okay, our guests were all okay.”

Yet Gray & Dudley was closed for 20 days. While this may seem small compared to other businesses that are still not open, it is a huge blow to the restaurant industry. Especially in the wake of the pandemic.

“I think that’s really what resonates with all of us in the hotel is that we, and the restaurant, love to provide the hospitality that we love to be with our guests,” said Bell. “You really find yourself bemoaning this fact more than any other ability to connect with people. And in the year leading up to the bombing, we were all desperate for a connection. ”

That connection came after the bombing, just in a different way, and it was between the restaurants along 2nd Avenue and their employees. “There is definitely something about the shared trauma that brings people together. But, you know, I think it was amazing to see, ”added Bell.

Gray & Dudley has been open again for months now, but it’s still not what it was before. “You know, I think the industry as a whole is going to be held to account. I don’t know what full recovery looks like, I think a lot is going to change in the restaurant industry,” said Bell.

News 2 takes you into the reclamation of historic downtown Nashville rocked by the bombing last Christmas. Watch special reports on 2sd Avenue reborn all day Thursday in every newscast. And on WKRN.com.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the resilience of the Nashvillians.

“It’s not new to Nashville, is it?” In the face of everything, it’s still Nashville strong, ”said Bell. “You see the signs everywhere and maybe you don’t value it as much as you should because it’s something that has become a real cry for Nashville.”

Chef Bell said the best way to support the restaurants on 2nd Avenue is to dine there, buy gift cards, or get take out.

For more information on Gray & Dudley, click here.