As Nashville slowly reopens, 'transportainment' businesses preparing to return to Broadway

Posted at 5:26 PM, May 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-19 19:19:34-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Some businesses considered "transportainment" in Nashville are getting ready to start operations by next month.

Since early March, party carriage company Sprocket Rocket had its bikes stored away even before downtown was completely shut down. Owner Emmit Martin said he projected to lose $1.5 million by the end of June.

The company lost about 50% of business in what was supposed to be a record-setting year. Martin also had opening a new location in the works.

"“No matter how you prepare for the future, you can never be prepared for something that strong,” Martin said.

Businesses like his, party buses, trucks and horse carriages were never specifically listed in the city’s orders. Nevertheless, with tourism disappearing, gathering restrictions and safety concerns, staying open was impossible.

"We can go operate but that’s stupid in this environment," Martin said. "You start to struggle with your rights individually versus your moral obligations and it’s hard."

Sprocket Rocket shares ideas in tandem with Nashville Pedal Tavern. They decided to self-regulate how they’ll rebound by coordinating with Mayor John Cooper’s orders.

The Coronavirus Task Force said transportainment businesses aren’t part of phase one of reopening but hopes to have more defined guidelines in future phases.

Nevertheless, companies like Music City Crawler plans to open by June 18. Owner Susan Pizzitola said another company plans to open around mid-June under phase three, although how it came to that conclusion remains a mystery.

Sprocket Rocket also plans to start accepting reservations on June 1 and operating that month with a limit of no more than 10 people. Martin said his company won’t be in full capacity until restaurants can. He’d rather wait longer to keep everyone safe.

"If the mayor says all restaurants and bars can open at full capacity, then that’s the category we’ll put ourselves in is the restaurants and bars. I either want to do it the right way and give people the right experience or I want to wait for the all-clear," Martin said.

Martin’s bikes will be washed before, in-between and after rides, and will require guests to sanitize.

Pizzitola said she has purchased equipment for her staff in preparation for next month.

"I’m going to require my employees to wear masks and make it optional for guests. We plan follow our city’s guidelines. I just wish everybody else would," Pizzitola said.

Sugar Creek Carriage Rides began offering its horse carriages last week. The owner said the company didn’t have to stop because it’s considered a transportation service, but did so out of safety.