The co-owner of the restaurant said the venue plans to stay open unless there's a statewide mandate

By Rosy Cordero
March 16, 2020 05:35 PM
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Credit: Dia Dipasupil/Getty

The owner of Kid Rock‘s Big Ass Honky Tonk & Rock ‘n’ Roll Steakhouse in Nashville has decided to close the eatery’s doors temporarily to slow the spread of coronavirus following intense pressure from the public.

“In cooperation with the Mayor’s office, Tootsie’s Honky Tonk Central and Kid Rock’s Honky Tonk have closed to help protect the public health,” a statement obtained by Variety read.

A rep for Kid Rock did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

The news comes after Big Ass Honky Tonk & Rock ‘n’ Roll owner Steve Smith defied Mayor John Cooper’s request to close all bars and limit the number of people dining at restaurants, calling the advice “unconstitutional.”

Smith released a statement Sunday saying the venue planned to stay open unless there was a statewide mandate. Kid Rock, real name Robert James Richie, has not commented on his partner’s decision to remain open.

“We appreciate the efforts of Mayor Cooper to combat the COVID-19 virus,” Smith’s statement said, “but unless there’s a statewide mandate that directs all bars and restaurants to be closed, the request made by Mayor Cooper is unconstitutional as he is targeting a select group of businesses.”

The Tennessee Department of Health reports 52 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state as of Monday. Nashville is still recovering from a tornado that ravaged the area March 3, with speeds clocking in as high as 165 mph. Dozens were killed, including five children under the age of 13. Smith presented Mayor Cooper with a $100,000 check to help the community in recovery.

The four-story venue opened in October 2018 and cost an estimated $20 million. Multiple outlets have billed country/rock singer Kid Rock as either a partner or collaborator of co-owners Smith and Al Ross, the latter of whom died in 2019. It is not uncommon for celebrities to license out their names, though Kid Rock’s affiliation with the restaurant is not quite clear.

Rock told The Tennessean of his partnership with his longtime friend Smith and Ross on the Nashville hot spot in June 2018, “I’m scared to put my name on anything because my name is on it. If I put my stamp on it and have a vision for it and it’s something that’s detrimental, it’s not worth the money or risk. At this point, I don’t need to take risks. I want to do things that are fun and with good people.”

EW has reached out to representatives for Kid Rock and Smith for comment.

This article originally appeared on Entertainment Weekly.