Fire closes Brown’s Diner temporarily
Less than a week after Bobby’s Idle Hour served its final drink on Music Row, another of the music community’s cherished watering holes has closed its doors, albeit temporarily.
A Thursday morning fire swept through the kitchen of Brown’s Diner at Blair Boulevard and 21st Avenue South, gutting one of the two old mule-drawn trolley cars that formed the original diner in 1927.
Although he doesn’t have insurance, owner Jim Love said he hopes to reopen the landmark hamburger and beer joint in a matter of weeks, depending on approvals from Metro Codes Administration.
“We’ll start rebuilding as soon as possible. We have to be positive. It’s happened and nobody got hurt, and that’s the good thing,” he said.
Love said he had come to Brown’s early to make tea on the grill and left at 7:15 a.m. Apparently, he said, a greasy substance under one of the burners was smoldering and caught fire after the exhaust fan was turned on. No one was there at the time.
The Metro Fire Department responded at 8:30 a.m. and contained the fire within about 30 minutes, said Metro’s deputy fire chief, Kim Lawson. The fire marshal is investigating the cause.
Love, the owner since 1973, said Brown’s Diner holds the oldest beer license in Nashville. Love built a cinderblock addition in 1986 that’s now the 60-seat dining area. The newer building, he said, stopped the fire from spreading.
The bar, located in the other old trolley car, suffered mostly smoke damage. Budweiser signs behind the bar are melted and some of the paper currency customers posted above the bar is damaged.
“This part (the bar) has to be saved,” said manager Terry Young, a Brown’s bartender for 25 years. He said many a Nashville celebrity has frequented the diner, including Vince Gill, Toby Keith and Gov. Phil Bredesen.
There are also a lot of neighborhood regulars who come not only for the cold beer, but also Brown’s legendary hamburgers.
Harold Allen, 81, and drummer Pat McInerney, both customers for about 30 years, stood in the parking lot and watched sadly as Love and his employees carried out charred remnants from the kitchen.
“It’s really upsetting. This is where you meet your friends,” said McInerney. Just last Sunday, he said, he and his wife Leanne were lamenting the loss of Bobby’s Idle Hour, which was forced to leave its 16th Avenue South location after some 30 years in business.