This week we are spotlighting Thomas Hartzog, managing partner of Black Rabbit. Check out his responses below!
1. Q: How does your business benefit from membership with GNHA?
A: Black Rabbit has benefited from GNHA membership in that we are more connected to like-minded businesses, their owners, and their managers. Whether we are coming together to solve problems like trash collection, parking and traffic enforcement, or to share new business strategies, I feel that we are more recognized as members of the community than before. This past year alone, we were able to get a new crosswalk at Banker's Alley and 3rd Ave N along with additional signage, and I know that our efforts to influence the Connect Downtown study will have a long-term impact on the safety of our community..
2. Q: Nashville is experiencing rapid growth. How is your business evolving to meet demand?
A: I started working on Broadway when I was 18 on November 2nd, 2000. I also grew up cruising 2nd Ave on the weekends as long as I could get away with it before that. So, believe me when I say that the growth I have witnessed since I started coming downtown is absolutely unbelievable. Even in 2010, I never would've guessed that we would be where we are today.
Black Rabbit opened in November 2017 and was just hitting the note when we all had to close our dining rooms and eventually reopen to restricted capacities. I embraced the forced changes to our format and have used that to curate an experience that has turned us into more of a restaurant than cocktail lounge. Giving more attentive service to match the high quality of Chef Raul Garcia's food has been my main objective as we continue to evolve. We are a small restaurant. Therefore, finding more efficient ways to turn tables is the name of the game. Also, my wife, Melissa, took over as General Manager, which includes the traditional Sales Manager responsibilities, as we began to see the return of business / convention tourism. Together with Chefs Garcia and Garrett O'Shea, we are continuing to refine our family style / tapas style group dinner menus. Our newest venture is opening for lunch for the first time ever! Come try all the fantastic sandwiches that feature Chef Andrew Kutsulis's fresh bread program. We will be open for lunch Thursday through Saturday from 10:30-1:30!
3. Q: What makes you proud to be part of the hospitality industry in Nashville?
A: I like to think that being a member of the hospitality industry in Nashville for more than two decades is badge of honor that I have earned. There are folks coming from around the world to get a piece of the action, and maybe they have their badge of honor from somewhere else. But, did I ever think about moving to Vegas or NYC to bartend or cook? No. Never. I am from Nashville, and I am a loyal person. I take pride in having a small piece of the pie in my hometown where I can put my personal stamp on what I think Nashville Hospitality should look like... high integrity food and drink, support of local / original music, and a general understanding of respect for one another. That last one is really important to us at Black Rabbit. When you come to Black Rabbit, you are coming into my house, and I am very proud of it. I expect everyone to act accordingly.
Lastly, I appreciate Chef Trey Cioccia, owner, having faith in me and continuing to support my ideas as we move forward. Working with a local chef-owner that understands both sides of the coin is definitely a plus.