GAINESBORO – Bight of the Bend, an award-winning restaurant in Gainesboro and Jackson County, is shutting its doors for good.
Owner Kent Birdwell confirmed the news on the restaurant’s Facebook page Thursday. Its last day is Dec. 31; they’ll continue to serve diners during the last few weekends of the year, he said.
“It’s time to confirm (the) rumors,” he wrote. “I’ve come to the conclusion that Gainesboro isn’t quite ready for Bight of the Bend. Thank you to those who’ve supported us and made me realize how good our food is and how cool Bight is. It’s sad I have to leave.”
Bight of the Bend, which served up authentic barbecue in a rustic, homemade environment, featured recipes Birdwell had honed during his world travels – namely ribs, chicken, prime rib and more. The Upper Cumberland Business Journal was the first to feature Bight in the summer of 2013, when he originally announced plans for the eatery. The restaurant opened later that fall.
The concept, however, was one that never really took off in this small town, despite the success of its neighbor, The Bull & Thistle Pub. Bight was open only on weekends; Birdwell worked the remaining days as a financial analyst. The restaurant was among the first in Tennessee to institute a no-tipping policy, which confused some. And in past interviews, Birdwell said his biggest challenge came via reservations. People simply didn’t make them, and that made it hard for him to gauge demand.
“I’m producing either way too much, and the food costs are killing me, or I produce too little, and I have people drive from Nashville or Cookeville and I run out,” he told me in June, during an interview about the restaurant’s selection as a 2015 Ovation Award winner, an annual UCBJ recognition for the best businesses in the region. “It takes me 12 hours to make the food. I don’t know of any other way to solve the problem.”
He said on Facebook Thursday that he’s “excited about the future and sharing Bight in a new home with new friends.”
Bight will open for the last few weekends of the year. Reservations can be made at bit.ly/Bightreservations and private parties can be booked by calling (931) 361-1601.