Restaurants, homes for sale have predictable death spiral

Friday, February 22, 2019, Vol. 43, No. 8

As Nashville evolved into the ‘It City,” the only sector that proliferated more than real estate – with its tall, tall skinny houses, apartment buildings and condos – was the restaurant industry.

Some came from afar, others were homegrown. And then there are the unflappable, infallible Goldberg brothers, who are opening a seemingly infinite number of eateries.

Some feel the housing market has slowed, although the numbers reflect otherwise. And there are those who feel the restaurant business might have devoured itself the way locals and tourists gobble the city’s specialty dishes.

The closing of Goldrush, an Elliston Place staple for years, reflects the change on that famous street, with Logan’s Roadhouse now boarded, world-famous Rotier’s now open for lunch only, Calypso Café relocated and – around the corner – Kobe Steaks ending its decadeslong run. Add the delightful Sardinia, which had a short run next to Kobe.

While the residential real estate inventory level remains low at 11,000 units, that is some 4,000 more than the low a few months ago. However, it is less than the 12,000 properties on the market last summer, and the sales seem to take longer.

It feels slower, even though sales are down only 3 percent from the record year of 2017.

As restaurants begin to slow, there are signs – real signs with writing on them – that point to the falling revenue. The same is true for real estate.

When things slow at eateries that opened serving only lunch and dinner, temporary signs pop up stating, “Now open for Brunch Saturday and Sunday.” How difficult could breakfast be, after all? Anyone can fry eggs and bacon, and the chef has his special omelet that includes ingredients no self-respecting egg would ever embrace.

In the real estate world, the need for a sale is announced with the less-subtle “REDUCED” sign being added atop the “For Sale” sign.

There is a slight exception, and that occurs when the proud owners simply refuse to allow their property to be besmirched by such a negative sign. “New Price” gives a more positive spin.

Here’s a hint to those people: No one thinks you raised the price. It didn’t sell because it was too expensive. Now the price is less expensive or, as some might say, reduced.

Another dead giveaway that a restaurant might be failing: “Live Music on Weekends.” The music might be live, but the restaurant is dying.

Unless it is Ed Sheeran or perhaps one of the semi-nude women from the Grammys, no one is going to show up to eat food because one of Nashville’s talented musicians appears. The singer often has more talent than the chef.

There are exceptions to this rule in a town overflowing with brilliant musicians and vocalists. There have been many established entertainers whose presence and music actually enhances the meals and the atmosphere, and many have enormous followings.

Teri Reid comes to mind, as she is a player who has woven her musicianship into the fabric of the cuisine. Many in search of a good meal will give a restaurant a chance if she is there, knowing she would not appear at a venue where the food was not as good as her music.

The Realtors’ answer to the live music motif is to host open houses every single Sunday. The sign should read “Live Realtors Performing Sundays.”

Realtors and restaurants alike often add balloons or lights or special signs with stars and lightning bolts. Nothing says cold food or bad house more than a deflated balloon or a burned-out bulb.

If you see a “Kids Eat Free” banner waving, parents should sniff the food before their children are allowed to consume it.

The real estate equivalent is “4,731 sf, 3BR, 3BA” or “Oversized Lot.”

As a restaurant’s finals days near, a sandwich board is placed by the roadway out front with all of the meals ending with .99. Hamburgers, fries and drink, for example, $8.99. Steak, salad, baked potato: $9.99.

Meanwhile, The Palm has a waiting list of diners willing to pay $45 at lunch for a steak, and the Goldbergs have good food and a bowling alley.

In real estate, its “Special Financing.” Like the discounted meals, the general public saw neither product as something they wanted, no matter the price.

“Help wanted” signals last call. It means those who worked there were not able to make enough money to make it worth their effort.

“Make Offer” sends the same signal in real estate. There is always a price that someone will pay for the product. This simply means no one has established that number for a particular property.

Finally, the place formerly known as Guido’s Italian Restorante has a grand opening banner adorning its façade announcing that El Stuffed Pepper will be opening soon.

In the residential section, Crystal Real Estate’s sign is gone, and Enter Realty, LLC has a “Coming Soon” sign.

Enter’s price is $100,000 lower than Crystal’s.

It is impossible to renovate a sirloin.

Richard Courtney is a licensed real estate broker with Fridrich and Clark Realty and can be reached at