Country star Dierks Bentley closed down his three-floor bar in Nashville Monday afternoon, but promised to give each of the venue’s 90 hourly employees $1,000 to help get through the coronavirus crisis as the city’s nightspots are forced to shut down.
“Just gave last call at Whiskey Row Nashville as we close the doors for a while,” Bentley wrote on social media. “My heart goes out to all the guys/girls down on Lower Broad. Feels like yesterday that it was me down there working for tips. I am going to immediately give each of our 90 hourly employees $1000 to help in the short run as our community and country try to get a handle on the situation.”
He continued, “Riot Hospitality Group and I encourage all bar owners on Lower Broadway to take care of their bartenders, bar backs, waitresses, security, dishwashers, etc. the best they can. Lower Broadway is the heartbeat of Nashville. Let’s make sure we can help the folks that help make the music happen.”
Nashville’s Lower Broad area was the source of some controversy Monday as the tourist-drawing bars there continued to operate and fill up into the afternoon, even in the wake of edicts from the mayor and city of Nashville Sunday that all bars in Davidson County should shut down. Steve Smith, the owner of popular attractions like Tootsie’s and Kid Rock’s Big Ass Steakhouse, had vowed to keep his locations open until the state itself shut them down, and threatened to take it to court, but backed down under pressure late in the day, closing his three bars while keeping open the two locations that are classified as restaurants. Other bars across Lower Broad quickly followed suit Monday after initially sharing the defiance.
Bentley opened his multi-level nightspot in Nashville in January 2018 as the fourth in a series of Whiskey Row locations, the other three of which are in the cities of Scottsdale, Tempe and Gilbert in his home state of Arizona. The state is also the home base for the restaurant management group that operates the facilities, Riot Hospitality Group.
Bentley’s bar had recently hosted a benefit for tornado damage relief headined by Mitchell Tenpenny, after the disaster that befell Nashville earlier in March. Bentley’s longtime drummer, Steve Misamore, was among those who lost their homes to the twister.
Bentley has an album coming out with his satirical side project, Hot Country Knights — although he publicly acknowledges only that he is a producer of the ’90s parody group, not actually a member, since he appears under the nom de plume Doug Douglason. Their debut album “The K Is Silent” is scheduled to come out May 1.
The comedic band announced Monday that its headlining tour, which was to begin at L.A.’s Wiltern in April, has been postponed. “Although we are pretty familiar with all types of viruses,” said “Douglason” in a statement, “we realize that our fans may not have the same immunity built up.” In announcing the cancellation, Hot Country Knights released a Spotify “quarantine playlist” of ’90s hits, accompanied by a graphic that shows the faux group members in armor and face masks.