Liberty Common enters Nashville’s design-forward dining scene
By Hollie Deese
Photography by Reeves Smith
Terrell Raley knows his way around designing a restaurant or two — not by trade, but by practice. His latest offering, Liberty Common from his Amaranth Hospitality Group, is an effortlessly stylish, modern Southern brasserie that honors Old World café tradition.
“We really wanted to capture what I feel like a brasserie is, with coarser marble, copper elements, opal glass sconces,” Raley says. “We wanted to do booths that were channel backs. I didn’t want to do a carbon copy of a typical steakhouse brasserie, a New York City hybrid. I wanted it to feel like something that was uniquely Southern.”
In designing the 6,100-square-foot space of Liberty Common, Raley sought to borrow the essential elements of a traditional brasserie, such as a brass back bar system and marble architectural features, while avoiding a full-scale reproduction of French-American hybrid bistros. The result is a Southern brasserie with bright blue booths and tile but without the reproduction of French architectural elements typical of brasseries in other cities.
“I feel like we took the best of what those places have to offer, and we just kind of modernized it a little bit,” he says. “I think it works.”
Liberty Common is the fourth restaurant from Raley, who developed the aesthetics and concepts for East Nashville’s Holland House, The Pharmacy, and most recently, Butchertown Hall. Raley is known for his ability to imagine extraordinary design and to source and commission custom furniture, fixtures and architectural elements that bring his spaces to life.
Even if he has to get an importer’s license to do so — like he did for the copper pendants he brought from overseas before he even had the restaurant.
“They were the benchmark of what I wanted the place to be,” he says. “I felt like if I had those, everything else would be designed around them.”
The pendants sat in his attic for about a year and a half until Southern Lights Electric helped get them UL listed and wired for American standards. Then he worked with Elemental Arthouse to design the bar and shelving, the scalloped wall in the private dining area and the railings behind the banquettes.
“The first thing that I always tend to think about, and that’s with basically any restaurant that I’ve done, is lighting. I always consider that first, how the restaurant is going to make you feel,” he says.
The restaurant’s menus were developed by partner and Executive Chef Jeffrey Rhodes. A Nashville native, Rhodes graduated from Le Cordon Bleu and spent many years working in Michelin-starred restaurants across the West Coast. His menus are complimented by fresh biscuits, pastries and desserts made in-house by Pastry Chef Jessica Collins.
“We’re in the hospitality business, we’re not in the restaurant business,” he says. “I really appreciate going to restaurants where, even if the service isn’t 100 percent perfect, there’s this effort, there’s attention being paid to every guest.”
207 First Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37201
In the new 222 Building, directly across from Ascend Amphitheater.