The Sutler Packs Up

One of Nashville’s well-known music venues will close its doors December 23rd after 30 years in business.

The 140-capacity Sutler, with its Civil War theme and “Cheers”-like atmosphere, has fallen victim to a developer who wants to renovate a strip mall where the bar sits.

The developer wanted to keep The Sutler and move it to the back of the center but that didn’t sit well with club owner Johnny Potts.

Potts chose not to renew the lease, which expires December 31st, since he would have to give up his prime location.

“I thought I could go 10 more years but progress, capitalism and the whole bit just blew everything apart,” Potts told Pollstar. “Financially, it would have been absolutely cruel to spend all that money on somebody else’s building for a five-year lease. Business-wise, it wasn’t worth it.”

Potts was 33 years old when he left his career as a radio DJ to open the bar in 1975. Since then, the venue has hosted artists including Garth Brooks, Don Everly, Dobie Gray, Emmylou Harris and Keith Urban, to name a few.

Capitol Records used to hold its staff parties there, and Brooks and others would take the stage along with the label’s new artists.

Despite the circumstances, Potts said The Sutler could resurface in a new location.

“When you go into business, you stay in business until you decide to get out. This time, I didn’t have the chance to decide to get out,” he said. “I know what I’m up against and I don’t know that it would ever be the same … but there is the possibility that I would take the risk and do it.”

— Tina Amendola