An unmatched December tornado outbreak wreaked havoc on a smattering of states in the late hours of Friday and into the early hours of Saturday morning, something too familiar for Nashville and dozens of its restaurants that were damaged or destroyed in the March 2020 tornado. But once again, restaurant owners and employees were quick to step in to provide help in the form of collecting food and donations.
The National Weather Service confirmed on Sunday that an outbreak of over 34 tornadoes trekked across eight states in the late hours of Friday night and Saturday morning, carving out a path of devastation for hundreds of miles between Arkansas and Kentucky. This was one of the longest tracks of tornado damage in United States history, the deadliest tornado outbreak in this country in over a decade, and Kentucky’s most devastating tornado event in history.
Two hours northwest of Nashville, shots from above show the small town of Mayfield, Kentucky, is nearly wiped out, while just an hour north in Bowling Green multiple homes and businesses were also destroyed. Here in Tennessee, nine tornadoes were detected; the severe weather events downed trees and power lines and other damage in its wake. Kingston Springs and Dickson were among the hardest towns hit. A transformer exploded in Old Hickory, resulting in tens of thousands in Tennessee without power, including many Nashville restaurants like Prince’s Hot Chicken’s south locations, Sam’s at Nipper Corner, and dozens more closed on Saturday due to power outage. McGaugh’s Donuts’ sign saw significant damage from the wind.
T.J.’s Restaurant & Catering and Subculture Urban Cuisine & Cafe lost power and sustained water roof damage. Subculture’s co-owner Pablo Bonacic posted on social media that he plans to open back up Tuesday. North of downtown Aqui Hanes hot chicken haven 400 Degrees incurred extensive damage and lost toy drive donations in the storm. The restaurant will be closed until further notice. In a video Hines shared to social media, Hines says, “Last night’s tornado ripped up 400 Degrees y’all,” and asked for prayers. Las Maracas on Gallatin Pike had Nashville Fire at the scene on Saturday, investigating a clipped gas line possibly caused by debris from the storm.
President Joe Biden has declared a federal emergency and promised help as over 100 people are feared dead and dozens remain missing across the affected states. Certainly no strangers to devastation, Nashville and its resilient hospitality industry were quick to start providing food for those affected and helping in any way they could.
Edley’s Glen Carbon, Illinois location sustained minimal damage, but stayed open and was offering free sandwiches to first responders after the storm. In Mount Juliet, the owners of bagel shop Jersey Oven posted: “To any local families that may have suffered severe storm damage to their homes and are unable to prepare food at this time, please feel free to come into Jersey Oven for free breakfast and/or lunch today and Sunday.”
Red Perch owners offered to feed anyone in Nashville without power, and the team at Maiz de la Vida cooked for Vanderbilt employees who worked all night. 12 South shop White’s Mercantile owner Holly Williams quickly donated $10,000 for relief and encouraged social media followers to Samaritan’s Purse.
World Central Kitchen, which has been working with Nashville restaurant partners since early in the pandemic, immediately sprung into action to send food to Bowling Green and Mayfield, plus affected areas in Tennessee, says representative Whitney Pastorek in a phone interview with Eater Nashville. Early Saturday, Casa Azafran’s commercial kitchen, restaurant incubator, and non-profit Mesa Komal’s participant Ruth Rico sent 100 fresh arepas from Delicias Columbiana while Local Distro’s Will Radford prepped 100 wraps and sandwiches to send to Bowling Green. Pastorek also told Eater that chef José Andrés flew into Nashville later Saturday and personally drove up chicken, grits, and veggies from Biscuit Love. Two Peruvian Chefs in a Truck and Big Al’s Deli also contributed hundreds of meals to World Central Kitchen’s relief efforts.
Kentucky’s Gov. Andy Beshear asked people to give blood and established Team Western Kentucky Relief Fund for donations and volunteer efforts, while chef Edward Lee’s LEE Initiative and the Red Cross are also accepting donations.
Eater Nashville will continue to update with ways you can help as more information comes in. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have more information on restaurants affected or how to help.