Nashville restaurateur Tom Morales, of TomKats Hospitality, opens the group’s newest restaurant project on Monday, February 5. Woolworth on 5th, located in the historic arts district in downtown Nashville, will reprise the original Woolworth as a restaurant and live music venue that honors the history and events that took place there.
Morales and his team began work on the historic space in early 2017, renovating and restoring the building to its original beauty. This restoration follows a number of successful Morales projects throughout Nashville. In 2004, Morales played a major role in the restoration and rebranding of the famous Loveless Café in southwest Nashville. Morales’ ventures under the TomKats umbrella include The Southern Steak & Oyster, which opened in 2012 in the SoBro district and now includes the adjacent Southernaire Market. The Southern was followed quickly by the historic rehabilitation of Acme Feed & Seed on Lower Broadway in 2014. TomKats’ most recent project is Fin & Pearl, a sustainable seafood concept that opened in December 2016 in the Gulch.
“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 Morales. “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. We are excited to share it with the city we love.”
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.
In February 1960, groups of students from Nashville’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities staged sit-ins at the lunch counters of Woolworth, Kress, McClellan, and Walgreens, with the goal of desegregation. After weeks of taking a principled peaceful stand, and after enduring violence and arrests, their voices were heard and Nashville’s mayor agreed to desegregate the lunch counters. Motivated by their success, the Nashville Student Protest Movement continued its efforts to desegregate all public facilities until the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
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.