NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — After more than a year of scraping by due to the pandemic, a Nashville restaurant and sports bar less than a mile from Nissan Stadium said they are counting on a full Titans' season to make ends meet.
"Last football season was very tough, you know, not only indoors but outdoors people were spooked by COVID, "explained The Mainstay Restaurant General Manager Matthew Zimmer. "I think all of our business, struggled to make it and make it happen."
The restaurant and sports bar has capacity for more than 200 people and is positioned walking distance to Nissan Stadium. Without fans at the Titan's games last year, there were often empty tables at the restaurant.
Zimmer said they are hoping for a turn around to that narrative starting with the Titan's first home game with fans on September 12.
"We're looking forward to the Titans starting this weekend. We're looking forward to football in general starting just because the amount of business that football helps generate in the bar business," explained Zimmer.
Zimmer's boss and owner of The Mainstay Restaurant, Manny Hatz, said the restaurant as well as another bar he owns, Fat Kat Slim's, have not turned a profit since the pandemic started.
Hatz told NewsChannel 5 that beyond a small Paycheck Protection Program (PPE) loan, although he qualified for funding through the American Rescue Plan he never received a dime. He said he has come close to starting a GoFundMe page for his businesses as he said he is footing the bill himself.
Needless to say, both Hatz and Zimmer said they are counting on the Fall 2021 football season to carry them through.
"On a good year, the amount of money, football generates everyone looks forward to," said Zimmer. "So now, even more to help us, you know, close that gap that's been going on. So everyone just kind of hoping and praying."
Zimmer said each win builds momentum for football fans and the number that show up to watch the game together at The Mainstay so it is important for business that the Titans and the SEC teams have the chance to play their whole season.
The pandemic also brought unemployment benefits, something Zimmer said has created a huge challenge during the 2021 summer at the restaurant. Now that those benefits ended on Monday, he hopes there will be a better talent pool to put together a staff for football season.
"With the subsidies ending, hopefully we'll get a workforce back into place in the in the hospitality industry. And then, you know, for us personally just getting things rocking and rolling. Coming out of COVID and hopefully moving on to some positivity throughout throughout the country for the bar business. We hope," said Zimmer. "Our whole hospitality business needs it."