Ahh 12 South…where giggling bachelorettes stroll the streets in droves and local Nashvillians plan weeks in advance for restaurant reservations. In this ‘it’ scene, you can buy everything from Reese Witherspoon’s latest southern swag to a fresh squeezed margarita or vintage Western wear. The 12 South neighborhood however, wasn’t always so vibrant. Just when did 12 South actually become cool?
There were’t many reasons to visit 12 South in the mid-2000’s. One was Frothy Monkey - a cosy house-turned coffee shop serving high quality eats and the other the hole-in-the-wall popsicle shop, Las Paletas. Once a year or so, an occasion would come up that warranted a special trip to the neighborhood for a sweet treat. Friends and I would load up on a hot summer day for a fresh coconut popsicle.
The other thing that brought me to 12 South around that time was TRIM. The posh hair salon was the place for brunettes to get a dye job and I was a (very) young professional in need of some color circa 2009. Mafiosas and 12 South Taproom were also anchor tenants on the street, but I wouldn’t say that Nashvillians were yet flocking to the neighborhood as a sought out destination. In 2012, my husband and I were eating at Burger Up one day, watching the build out of Urban Grub. “What a risk! - that’s a gutsy business owner” we thought as we watched the monstrous restaurant go up. We couldn’t imaging that even in 2012, 12 South could support such a big establishment.
But, here we are, only a handful of years later, and it seems that the addition of Burger Up in 2010 and Urban Grub in 2012 really set the stage for the neighborhood rounding the corner of ‘cool’ (or, maybe just crowded?). Regardless, a rash of other business have been able to take a far less risky dive into the neighborhood since these early adopters set the scene.
The grand finale to 12 South’s rise to fame was probably the addition of Draper James in 2015. Pre-Reese Witherspoon’s presence in the area, far fewer tourists were likely to visit - 12 South was predominately a local hotspot. Even if you’re not a fan of being trampled by bachelorettes, if you lived in 12 South before it was cool, keep in mind - your home value has probably quadrupled because of the businesses that attract them.
Did you live in 12 South before it was cool? Which version of the neighborhood do you prefer?