Nick & Rudy's, a high-profile steakhouse that operated on 21st Avenue for nearly eight years, shut down for good last week. Rudy Caduff, one of the owners, said a tough economy and the illness of his business partner, Nick Nikolaiczyk, made it impossible to continue operating.
"We just had to close down," Caduff said. "The economy is killing us."
Caduff said customers began staying away when gas prices started climbing. "When people have to pay $3.50, $3.80 a gallon for gas, I guess fine dining is the first thing to go." He said rising food prices also increased overhead costs.
The final blow came when Nikolaiczyk was diagnosed with cancer two months ago. Caduff said his business partner was hospitalized last week after a bout of chemotherapy and radiation.
Caduff and Nikolaiczyk had long careers as food and beverage executives at Opryland Resort and Convention Center before opening Nick & Rudy's in August 2000.
The restaurant at 204 21st Ave. S. quickly earned a devoted following of regular customers who relished the old-school luxury of the steaks and the warm, clubby ambience. The fact that it was an independent restaurant with owners on hand to greet customers in person added to the charm.
Caduff, a native of Switzerland who has lived in the United States for 30 years, said a lot of customers have called to offer their regrets about the closing. "They say it's like Cheers has closed. Everybody knew each other. People tell me to hang in there."
He added: "I feel really bad for our friends in the community, but we were losing money every day."
He said the worst part was telling his staff of around 10 full-timers and 20 part-timers about the closing. "It's a terrible time to look for a job," he said.
"I wish everybody the best, especially restaurateurs who are trying to continue in this economy," Caduff said. "It's a tough, tough time."
Caduff said he hasn't made any future business plans. "We need to kind of recuperate," he said. "I really don't know."
Otter's plans to expand
East Nashville, which recently got an outpost of one local chain, Calypso Cafe, will land another one in September. Otter's Chicken Tenders, which started on the Demonbreun restaurant row in 2003 and now has a location in Cool Springs, will open a third store in early September in East Nashville's 5th & Main development.
The ambitious mixed-use complex is expected to open this summer at the corner of Fifth and Main streets. The new Otter's will join Allium, the much-anticipated fine dining spot from the folks behind Germantown Cafe. Allium, like Otter's, is expected to open at 5th & Main in early September.
The new Otter's will have the familiar menu of fresh chicken tenders and a multitude of sauces, and a beer-only bar. The site will feature parking underground and some seating outdoors.
The locations are at 1528 Demonbreun St. in Nashville (255-1415) and 790 Jordan Road in Cool Springs (778-0878). For info, visit www.otterschicken.com.
T's offers lunch
T's Tuscan Bar & Grill, the new restaurant Michael Tangredi opened in April in the former Trace space in Hillsboro Village, has added lunch.
Tangredi describes T's menu as having more of a Tuscan influence than his other restaurant, Tangredi's Italian Kitchen (2323 Elliston Place, 320-0107). The new restaurant offers pizza, pasta and grilled items such as swordfish and steaks. Sure to be popular at lunch is the sandwich menu, which includes burgers and a meatball hoagie.
T's has a full bar and an interesting list of signature cocktails. The front dining room opens wide to the fresh air, an added attraction for the new happy hour 4-7 p.m. daily ($2 domestic beers, $3 imports, 2-for-1 well drinks and wines starting at $4 per glass).
The multitasking restaurateur plans to open a third business, Michael T's American Bistro, later this summer at 1919 Division St.
T's Tuscan Bistro. 2000 Belcourt Ave., 386-0069, www.mtangredirestaurants.com. Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. daily (the bar stays open until 2 a.m.).