Lots of music venues are special in their own right: the Hollywood Bowl is iconic; you can’t think of punk music without picturing hordes of New Yorkers lining up outside CBGB in the East Village; Luckenbach, Texas is a one-horse town known mostly for it’s saw dust covered dance hall and the Waylon Jennings song that made it famous. But stepping foot into the Ryman Auditorium, the original home of the Grand Ole Opry and one and only Mother Church, is a sacred experience. The fact that we, as a catering company, get to step foot through those doors so often, is an actual blessing.
A Brief History. Built in 1892 by Tom Ryman, the Mother Church was, in its origin, a church. Then known as the Union Gospel Tabernacle, it housed thousands of people who gathered to hear revival lectures. The fate and future of the Tabernacle, however, was shifted when a stage was built to host the New York Metropolitan Opera’s tours of Carmen, Faust and The Barber of Seville – an unintentional foreshadowing of the little Tennessee-style “opera” with which the venue would later become synonymous. In the years leading up to the debut of the Grand Ole Opry, many a famous name graced the stage: Teddy Roosevelt, Charlie Chaplin, Harry Houdini, and Helen Keller – the first person to sell out the Ryman Auditorium’s 2,362 seats.
But it was in 1943 that the WSM Grand Ole Opry first premiered on the Ryman stage with the likes of Little Jimmy Dickens, Minnie Pearl, Bill Monroe – names that instantly bring to mind the twangy country and western sounds of Nashville in its heyday. The show continued there for 30 years, airing live and homes around the country three nights a week, before it relocated to the larger Grand Ole Opry House at Opryland in 1974. Since then, the Ryman has become known as a world class venue playing host to the brightest names in all musical genres.
Flavor + The Ryman. As a company, we are honored each time we are asked to cater an event there – be it backstage for a show, a reception in the newly opened Soul of Nashville room, or a plated dinner on that infamous stage. We work hand in hand with Ryman staff to meet the catering and hospitality needs of artists ranging from Aretha Franklin to Mumford and Sons, Jack White to Ed Sheeran.
But the Ryman plays host to more than just musical performances. We’ve catered a plated dinner on the stage for the Kennedy Center. Last summer, Interior Design Magazine held their Hospitality Giants of Design awards there, complete with three-piece string band and plated dinner on the stage. The Make-A-Wish Foundation and Kretschmar Deli granted the wishes of several children with a private concert and dinner in the Soul of Nashville Theater. Together we created a menu suited for kiddos (Mac & Cheese! Pizza!) using the company’s own products. But our favorite event at the Mother Church to date? Oh you know, just Ringo Starr’s birthday party. NBD.
Taking in a show at the Ryman is an experience every person who visits the city should have. You say you live here? You should go as often as possible. From the moment you step through the door to the moment you leave, you are guaranteed an incredible event. The most common refrain heard from any musician lucky enough to play the stage is, well, just that – how lucky they are to be playing the Ryman, to add their names to a roster as large and as legendary as any list. We are truly lucky this special place is in the heart of our fair city — what else is there to say? We love the Ryman.