NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Looking for the next big hit to come out of Nashville? You might want to watch the city's bustling food scene.
Nashville has long lured musicians looking for a break, but lately the city has seen a rush of top-notch chefs and restaurateurs, too. And it's largely thanks to those same musicians.
"Not only did the music (industry) bring money, stable money, into this town, it also brought people, people from all over the country and the world, to live in Nashville," says Roderick Bailey, who recently was named the Southeast's best new chef by Food & Wine magazine.
Those people brought worldly palates. And an expectation that those palates could be catered to.
The Kings of Leon, for example. Band bassist Matthew Followill says the band's constant touring exposed its members to all manner of great food. And they wanted it when they came home to Nashville.
"A lot of the people in the food industry are also big music fans," Followill said at the band's Nashville studio. "We kind of felt like Nashville didn't have a really good food scene going on. And it has changed for sure, in the past three, four, five years and there have been a lot of great restaurants that have come in. But for a while it was kind of lacking in that area compared to some of the other cities on the same scale."
That's changing. Fast. Last year alone nearly 75 new restaurants opened.
Now Followill's older brothers, Caleb and Nathan — the foodies of the band — are able to easily rattle off favorite Nashville eateries — Husk, The Catbird Seat, Rolf & Daughters, City House and Bailey's restaurant, Silly Goose, places that aren't just great locally, but known nationally.
And that has the players on the city's music scene lending a hand to spread the word that good eats have arrived. Bands and artists like Kings of Leon, Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and even Taylor Swift have been talking up the city's fine restaurants and neighborhood favorites in national publications.