Two summers ago, Bay Shore Restaurant Committee chairman Mike McElwee took a trip to the Music City, U.S.A. – also known as Nashville, Tenn.
McElwee said he was impressed by Nashville’s famous Broadway District, a major thoroughfare that runs from southwest to northeast through the heart of downtown Nashville. It’s a strip of bars, restaurants and stores that features live music across genres.
“Pretty much from 10 o’clock in the morning to 4 o’clock in the morning seven days a week, there’s music. Every bar has a live artist or full band. It’s such a cool vibe, and you can hop from place to place,” McElwee said.
His journey to Tennessee served as the partial inspiration for the Restaurant Committee's newest summer series, “Nashville Thursdays.”
Every Thursday this summer, Main Street in Bay Shore will resemble Broadway Street in Nashville, complete with plenty of live music and tasty grub. The series kicked off this past Thursday, May 20.
Participating venues include Fire Island Vines, Local Burger Co., Napper Tandy’s, The Penny Pub, T.J. Finley’s, new eatery Rock City Dogs, and many more. Local Burger Co. met the theme by offering diners a special Nashville chicken sandwich.
Local performers are encouraged to place a tip bucket in front of them and take requests, McElwee said, which is commonplace in downtown Nashville.
The series was originally planned for 2020, but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. McElwee said the committee is working hard to invite more businesses to the area and ask retail stores to stay open later as the season continues. If the series is successful, the committee hopes to continue it year-round.
The series held its soft opening on Thursday, May 20. Bay Shore Chamber of Commerce president Donna Perricone said the event is still in the early stages, but serves as a way to bring foot traffic to the downtown area.
Southwest Airlines recently announced it will begin nonstop service to Nashville starting June 6 at Long Island MacArthur Airport. In conjunction with LIMA, the committee aims to host a weekly travel ticket giveaway beginning this June, McElwee said.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, capacities at the event may be limited, and masks are required when not seated. Regulations could change down the line,
A popular misconception about Nashville, McElwee said, is that its only focus is on country music. While it’s true that there are country artists, there’s plenty of other genres, like bluegrass, rock and roll, alternative and more.
“Some local businesses were leery because they didn’t want country music – but it’s not about country,” McElwee said. “If your restaurant is better for reggae, that’s great. It’s just a way for us to collectively work together to showcase downtown Bay Shore.”