Marcie Allen and Derek Van Mol pictured in front of Anzi Blue, the 250-capacity restaurant and event space. (John Joseph/ @iamjohnjo)
Anzie Blue, the Hillsboro Village restaurant co-owned by Nashville natives Marcie Allen and Derek Van Mol, has been reimagined as AB Hillsboro Village — Music City’s newest live music and event venue.
“Somebody said, ‘Are you a glutton for punishment?’ laughed Allen. “I was like, ‘No, I’m here to preserve live music and independent music venues.’ That’s literally what it’s about.”
Timing played a huge part. Late in 2022, Allen closed her own MAC Presents experiential agency to launch MAC Consulting with high-level clients including Imax, Bumbershoot music festival and Sony. At the same time, lauded Anzie Blue executive chef Star Maye was gaining acclaim on the Food Network and destined for celebrity chef status. And during that time some of Nashville’s most revered music halls were shuttering. Allen saw opportunity.
“After hearing the Mercy Lounge was closing and 3rd & Lindsley lost their lease, the town that we grew up in and fell in love with live music in, was starting to disappear,” Allen recalled. “And we need to keep it fun.”
In partnership with Savage Interior Designs, AB Hillsboro Village was conceived to cater to Nashville’s creative community. The 4,000 square-foot location blocks from Vanderbilt University and Belmont University can host up to 250 guests and features a full kitchen and bar with parking for 100 vehicles directly below the building at 2111 Belcourt Avenue. Allen says more than $350,000 went into venue upgrades in a less-than-two-month period. It officially reopened March 1.
The interior was designed to accommodate a variety of events from album release parties to live streams and underplays by Nashville’s music industry. Designer Jonathan Savage said in a statement, “We approached the design with the intention of curating a space that not only inspires creativity but also caters to the discerning taste of Nashville natives.”
Reinvented as a sultry speakeasy, AB features a palette of black, gold and hunter green with a 28-foot bar and a custom 12X12 stage and full PA. Upcoming events include The Spirit of Country, a Duran Duran afterparty DJ set, Southbound Songwriters series and Drag Experience.
Allen said AB was designed by locals, for locals. “What that means is that we are actually programming events that look like Nashville,” she elaborated. “We want to provide all different genres of music, not just rock, not just pop, but more importantly, not just country music.”
Inclusive and welcoming to all, AB recently hosted a private prom for a local non-binary high school student and then held an event for a Christian artist.
“AB is a community space that welcomes everyone. It’s important that AB is inclusive and open to all, and we’re excited to see the space come to life with a variety of programming, both in-house and through private events,” Allen said. “Someone said, ‘Only you Marcie would host the Jewish Federation Women’s luncheon on a Saturday and roll right into Planned Parenthood and roll right into an urban show.’ And that’s the whole point.”
Allen is also using her extensive marketing experience to enhance plays for emerging talent.
“When we announced, my phone exploded and everyone said the same thing, ‘Can you help us break some of these artists,’” Allen said.
Allen is creating a “marketing machine” with print marketing and digital spends behind appropriate events and looking at engaging potential sponsors to help underwrite a future series.
“We don’t want to be your typical music venue,” Allen said. “We want to be the venue that is really helping develop the next artists that are going to perform on the Ryman stage or Bridgestone Arena.”