By Abbey Brown
For 124 years, the Ryman Auditorium has undoubtedly been one of the best venues to experience music in Nashville. Originally opened as the Union Gospel Tabernacle, the Ryman began leasing its facilities to non-religious events to pay off debts. Under the leadership of Lula C. Naff, the “first lady” of theater management, the Ryman booked world-renown entertainers, and became home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974.
Since 2010, the Ryman Auditorium has been consecutively named Pollstar’s Theater of the Year, and is currently ranked twelfth in the world. Although it’s been called the “Mother Church of Country Music,” the Ryman hosts a variety of recognized and new artists of all genres. It truly is a unique experience sitting in a church pew watching a performance in this intimate and aurally stunning venue.
The Ryman underwent a $14 million renovation and expansion last summer. Although the historic auditorium remained unchanged, the project included an extended retail store, box office, bigger lobbies and restroom facilities, and a new tour experience. The largest addition was Café Lula, dedicated to Lula C. Naff, who played such a significant role in diversifying the Ryman throughout her time as manager.
Located by the front doors of the Ryman, Café Lula is a casual chef-driven eatery and full-service bar, which focuses on “Nashville-centric” food and drink. Open daily from 9:00 AM-8:00 PM, Lula offers choices for every meal and diet. Think posh diner meets coffee shop meets bar.
If you’re visiting Nashville and haven’t tried our Hot Chicken, the chef creates a unique and delicious rotisserie interpretation of the native favorite. Beverages are also local with 8th & Roast coffee, Arrington wine, Pickers Vodka, and Jackalope beer on tap. Happy Hour is from 3:00 PM- 5:00 PM, and features drink and appetizer specials, including the “Kiss My Bluegrass,” with Pickers Vodka, blueberries, basil, and lemonade. Café Lula is the perfect downtown spot for lunch after a tour or dinner and cocktails before the show.
Located next to the Ryman on 116 5th Avenue N, in downtown Nashville.
For parking information visit park it downtown.