Nashville's oldest gay bar, the Chute complex on Franklin Road in Melrose will be closing its doors this Friday night with a huge retirement party for owner and operator Don Hartsfield.

The Chute, located at 2535 Franklin Road, has operated six different themed clubs under one roof and served as home bar for several local community groups including the Smoky Mountain Rodeo Association (SMRA), the Music City Bears, The Conductors and many others throughout the past two decades.

For many years the Chute has served as a beacon for the community, providing a safe sanctuary for GLBT individuals to be themselves, connect with other like-minded people and it has always been a great place to just unwind and have fun. Many friendships have been made, families created and times shared at the Chute.

Without the financial contributions of bars like the Chute, Nashville Pride and other local community groups and organizations would have never gotten off the ground, let alone been able to sustain a positive influence in our community.

Thank you Don Hartsfield for all you have done for Nashville, we'll treasure our fond memories and wish you all the best!

In his own words

We have many great new bars in town to take over for the next 24 years. We have had a great run and will miss all of our wonderful friends and customers we've grown to love over the years.

I sincerely want to to thank you Nashville for your patronage and and friendship throughout the years. We have always tried to be a community minded bar and help all of our much needed organizations that do so much for anyone in need with fundraisers and donations. Special thanks to Nashville CARES, the Comprehensive Care Center (CCC) and Alive Hospice for all you do.

I hope all of our new bars in town will continue to support in any way they can, so you can continue the good work you do for our community.

I would like to thank my wonderful staff - "my family" - for all of their dedication to me and the bar for so many years. I was truly blessed to have the best staff of employees ever! I will miss seeing you all every day. Good Luck to all of you.

I hope to see you all at my retirement party this Friday night.

With much love,

Don Hartfield
Chute owner and operator

Chute memories from loyal patrons

I will always remember the wonderful piano music, especially by Tony, in the Silver Stirrup, and the great times with Mark at the bar and his up-to-date, keen knowledge and witticism. Precious memories!
-- Paul and Jon

I have many fond memories of the chute. I met many wonderful and handsome men. I used to dance the night away on Friday and Saturday nights. Oh for the days of my youth.
--
Herbert Nixon

I really don't know where to begin, I have so many fond memories of the Chute. I started going there 8 years ago on my 21st birthday and ever since that first time, it has been my home bar. The Chute was a fixture in gay Nashville, a place that was open everyday of the year, always having a friendly and attentive staff, great entertainment, and great drinks at great prices.

I know many of us have been to the Chute and had a couple to many and don't recall all the details of the night before, however one thing that everybody will remember about the Chute is their dedication to the community. The Chute didn't just gave to charities because they wanted to look good, the Chute gave because they really care about the community, and want to do something to give back to those who support them.

There are so many individual stories involving the Chute, such as the day the new show-bar was unveiled and everyone oooed and aahhhed that Nashville had such a beautiful place for shows. There was the time the tornado's wrecked our city, and still bartender Don, came and opened up the Chute. Halloween was always a great time at the Chute as you never knew what you would see in the form of not only costumes but decorations.

Next Saturday at 3 a.m. will be a sad time in Nashville, and it is a loss that will affect us all, whether we went to the Chute or not, this loss will hurt many organizations, and will leave many wondering where they can now go where everyone knows them, and is genuinely glad they came to visit.

So now as I raise my glass high one more time for the Chute, I hope you all take the time and think of how this place has changed gay Nashville into what it is today.

Don, Becky, Don, Timmy, Mikey, Jo, Mark, Mathu, and all the others that work there, we love and we thank you for the memories.
-- David Pearce

If you have memories of The Chute you want to share, please email them to iout@comcast.net and news@outandaboutnewspaper.com.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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