Play and Tribe under renovation, Clyde's set to open
If you’ve been to Church Street recently, you may have noticed some changes going on, from the development of a new restaurant and bar at 1700 Church Street called Clyde’s on Church to some major renovations at staple LGBT haunts Tribe and Play Dance Bar. Clearly Nashville’s boom is being felt along its “gayest” of strips.
According to Joey Brown, of Play and Tribe, the renovations currently underway are part of the bar’s cycle of reinvestment. “The thing is, every year we invest a little bit back into the business, but every four or five years we do major renovations. We are going to spend a little over $300,000 updating things this time, between Play and Tribe.”
Besides simply “being time” for such a major project, Brown also highlighted Nashville’s hosting of the Bingham Cup in May as part of the reason the project us being undertaken right now. “The Bingham Cup is bringing people from all around the world and we just want to make sure we are on point. With the big rugby tournament coming to town, we want to show them the best we have to offer, to put Nashville’s best foot forward,” Brown explained.
So what’s happening at Play Dance Bar? One of the major changes so far is the knocking down of the wall at the end of the main bar and the bar’s extension. “With extending the main bar,” Brown explained, “we also added a bartender, and you can now stand in the lobby and see the show from there, with the wall gone.”
Additionally, “We are putting in video screens on the wall that remains in the lobby. Ultimately we would like people to be able to see the show from other places in the bar as well. We are also going to put lower booths in by the windows in the lobby.”
“At Play, we also are working on the floor,” Brown added, “and the booths in the dance bar needed a lot of attention. During the last renovations we hit the two bars, so this time we’ll hit that booth area.
Look for major changes at Tribe, some of which are already happening. “At Tribe, we are going to change some things that will affect the flow of the bar,” Brown said. “We are extending the Play dressing room back into Tribe’s old offices, which we moved so that we can have ample space for pageants and more girls.”
While the changes at Play can happen in bursts, due to the two nights a week the bar is closed, Tribe is open nightly. “In Tribe we are having to do everything in steps, not only because we are open every night, but also because we have to do one thing to get to another!”
The bars owners are very excited about the new décor as well, having gone so far as to invest in custom wallpaper by an artist whose work hangs in some of the nation’s most prestigious museums. “We are getting all new floors in Tribe, new columns and new light fixtures. We are moving the DJ booth and having a little stage put in there. We are getting all new fabric for the booths, new furniture… We are changing out our projectors and putting in new big screens!”
Overall, the renovation of the two bars is going to be about a four-month process, Brown said, including the two months they’ve already put into it. “This remodel is our big ones,” Brown said, “and we feel like a big reinvestment is important right now.”
Across Church Street, Clyde’s on Church was still under development but preparing to open, but little else is known at the time of printing. The renovations of the property constitute a major investment by the Monen Family Restaurant Group, which operates Clyde’s on Main in Chattanooga, as well as Taco Mamacita and others.
According to a Tennessean article printed last summer, the Monens leased the space at 1700 Church St. in 2014, so two years of work have been put into the project already. Further, Tenley Mayfield, the Monens’ business manager, told The Tennessean at that time that the restaurant would open late-2015, but it does appear, according to the restaurant’s website, that Clyde’s on Church is set to open in March.
For the most part, businesses on Church view this development favorably. Rather than viewing the new restaurant and bar as competition, they see it as a boon. “It’s exciting,” Brown said. “From our standpoint, the more traffic there is on the street better for us. People coming down to the area and walking around just brings more attention to Church Street’s other attractions!”
Above: renovations at PLAY. At top: renovations at Tribe.