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 honors 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
F.W. Woolworth first opened its doors in Nashville in 1913. The five-and-dime store attracted shoppers looking for quality and value. In fact, this block of 5th Avenue would later include three other national five-and-dime stores: Kress, McClellan and Walgreens. The lunch counter at Woolworth opened in 1925. All food items on the menu cost no more than ten cents each. Coca-Cola and root beer were sold for five cents.
In September 1941, a fire on the second floor destroyed the interior of the structure leaving only the front and rear walls intact. A year later the store reopened, restored with better displays, new lighting, and two lunch counters: one on the main floor and a second on the mezzanine level. The new building also added the large red marquis sign outside with the famous F.W. Woolworth name.
The new Woolworth on 5th reprises the original Woolworth as a restaurant and live music venue that honors its history and invites everyone to sit at the welcome table. Morales and his team began work on the historic space in early 2017, renovating and restoring the building to its original beauty. Through a massive restoration effort, much of the original architecture was preserved, including the upper level mezzanine, gilded handrails and wall accents, and hand-laid tile. Parts of the 18,000-square-foot space that could not be preserved were recreated to echo the style of the past: flowing staircases, the rebuilt lunch counter, wood-paneled walls, turquoise colors and an art deco-inspired vibe. The space remains true to its past, while creating new traditions for the future.
A welcome table
The menu at Woolworth on 5th explores the roots and history of Southern culinary arts, with ingredients and techniques that can be traced all over the globe. 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 also offers classic ice cream sundaes as well as alcoholic and nonalcoholic milkshakes.
A new era of sound
Woolworth on 5th is where Nashville goes for song and dance. The basement level of the restaurant, known as the New Era Ballroom, hosts a variety of regular music and performance programming. Live music in the New Era Ballroom explores the sounds of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, with a lineup of genres ranging from soul to swing, to gospel, to jazz. Nashville’s first big band, the Downtown Dippers, resides as the house band at Woolworth on 5th to entertain on a monthly basis.