Just a few days into 2023 we reported that South on Main owner Don Dugan had closed the restaurant and music venue at 1304 S. Main St. and had agreed in terms on the sale. That sale fell through. Dugan said there were other potential buyers interested in the property, but nothing materialized.
Dugan said that after some thought, he and his wife and business partner Tasha Stratton decided play to their strengths and reopen as a neighborhood bar, restaurant and music venue called The Busker, offering approachable bar food.
The pair also own downtown restaurants Dizzy’s Gypsy Bistro and Dugan’s Pub along with Stratton’s Market. From 2006 until 2011 they owned the former Markham Street Grill & Pub.
Dugan and Stratton purchased South on Main at the beginning of 2020 when previous owner chef Matt Bell accepted an executive chef position at Gray & Dudley, the restaurant in the 21c Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. Bell opened South on Main in partnership with the Oxford American in 2013. The timing of the purchase was unfortunate, Dugan said, because he took over just weeks before the beginning of the pandemic. The restaurant kept the Southern-style menu, but the programming partnership with Oxford American ended.
Dugan said the concept just wasn’t working, and it was time to retool and rebrand.
“I guess we both just kind of came to the realization that we wanted food that was going to be comfortable and approachable — something that people could come in three, four days a week, not a once a week or once a month or unless it’s kind of a special occasion,” Dugan said.
Dugan said live music will continue at the space.
“I thought it would be crazy to step away from that,” he said. “I mean, we have all the equipment here, why would we not do that? Why would I spend a bunch of money to tear the stage down? That doesn’t make any sense,” he said with a laugh.
When asked about the restaurant’s name, Dugan said he wanted it to tie into music and entertainment. “The Guitar just sounded terrible,” he joked. “The Drummer, no one wants to eat there. … There’s a lot of famous people that started out as buskers. The idea is to get a bunch of local talent to come in and play and perform and give them a venue,” he said.
Dugan said they do intend to book regional and national talent, but the idea is to welcome as much local talent as they can.
The Busker is in a soft opening period this week. The doors were open today, but Dugan said he’s not going to start promoting the opening on social media until next week. “I just want to get open and get a weekend under our belt,” he said.
Hours will be 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Wed.-Thu.; 11 a.m.-midnight Fri.-Sat. and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun.