The fabric of Nashville
Located at 221 5th Avenue North, the Woolworth building is a registered historic site as part of the Fifth Avenue Historic District in downtown Nashville. One of the original “five and dime” stores, F. W. Woolworth became the site of some of the first lunch counter sit-ins during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement in Nashville. The new Woolworth on 5th will honor the history of this space by serving as a welcome table for all – an upbeat atmosphere with food, music, dancing that everyone can enjoy.
“The history of Nashville is rich and diverse and should be preserved, yet every day we hear about another building being torn down to make room for something new,” said Tom Morales, owner and CEO of TomKats Hospitality. “The Woolworth building needed to be saved, and we are honored to be part of the next chapter of its history. Woolworth on 5th brings a unique vibe to the downtown scene – a welcome table of home grown flavors, old school sounds, and classic dance moves – and we are excited to share it with the city we love.”
Woolworth then and now
Nashville’s F.W. Woolworth department store opened in 1930, in a four-story building on 5th Avenue that was constructed at the turn of the 20th century. F.W. Woolworth occupied the basement level, street level, and mezzanine. Through a massive restoration effort, led by Nashville architecture firm Tuck Hinton, much of the original Woolworth space has been preserved for use at Woolworth on 5th. Elements of the building that could not be preserved were carefully recreated to pay homage to the original space.
Existing terrazzo floors in the basement, main, and mezzanine levels were restored to their original glory – with intermittent rectangular concrete bands which lay beneath the store’s merchandise display counters. Original cast iron railings exhibit the geometric ornament that was characteristic of the Art Deco period of the 20th century. Staircases were recreated to match the originals, with stained maple paneling and Art Deco line work revealed in the walnut inlays. Spaced between the wood paneling are new antiqued mirror glass panels.
A welcome table
The menu at Woolworth on 5th will explore the roots and history of Southern culinary arts, with ingredients and techniques that can be traced all over the globe, from north Africa to South America. TomKats Hospitality Executive Chef Matt Farley collaborated with Morales to create a menu that is packed with flavor and tradition.
The beverage program at Woolworth on 5th is inspired by the building’s previous life as a diner, where guests can order from a menu of accessible, soda fountain-inspired cocktails, wine and beer. The bar will also offer alcoholic and nonalcoholic milkshakes and floats.
A new era of sound
Woolworth on 5th is where Nashville will go for song and dance. The basement level of the restaurant, known as the New Era Ballroom and open to the public in March 1, will host a variety of regular music and performance programming. Live music in the New Era Ballroom will explore the sounds of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, with a lineup of genres ranging from funk to swing, to gospel, to jazz. Nashville’s first big band, the Downtown Dippers, will reside as the house band at Woolworth on 5th to entertain on a weekly basis. Wednesday nights will feature The Big Idea, a community night of poetry and cultural exploration led by Nashville actor, playwright, and director Barry Scott. Scott will bring an intellectual component to the entertainment at Woolworth on 5th with spoken word poetry and historical performances.