If you’ve been shocked by the transformation of the old Steak & Pizza into Paris-in-Tennessee which is Once Upon a Time in France, you won’t believe what awaits you at Overlord. The soon-to-open 60- to 70-seat neighborhood bar offers what is fast becoming Melvil Arnt’s signature formula: French-inspired food, drink and aesthetics behind nondescript facades.
In 2019, Arnt and his parents opened Once Upon a Time in France, a French bistro in east Nashville. Arnt is now embarking on a solo project transforming a former Hair World (the kingpin of Gallatin Avenue real estate) into a new bar, which will open this summer. 2503 Gallatin Ave. The name Overlord is a tribute to Operation Overlord, the Allied landings in Normandy during WWII, and the soldiers who subsequently liberated Western Europe.
When Arnt & Co. decorated Once Upon a Time in France, most of the artifacts were from family collections they brought from France. This time, Arnt got a bohemian 1940s look by shopping for bar wall items on eBay and ransacking his own home in Inglewood. There is a photo of Margaret Stanfill, for example – the first American woman, a nurse, to land on French soil during the war. The eclectic collection of items lends strongly to WWII, with Europe, East Nashville and drinking accessories.
Arnt restored a vintage bar adorned with wooden mirrors and rescued leather booths from an old restaurant. These kiosks don’t have the kind of dividers typical American restaurants have and instead are designed to encourage a more European sitting – side by side with strangers and getting to know them. He hung elegant geometric patterned wallpaper (which was the starting point for his design inspiration) and marble tiles inlaid into wooden wall panels. He created a comfortable raised corner stand adorned with green velvet that can be reserved for birthdays and the like.
The interior is a breathtaking experience, I am truly on Gallatin Avenue, and Arnt anticipates the menu and experience to be equally quirky and welcoming. Overlord will be a cocktail, beer and wine bar with a small kitchen for cold meats, croque monsieurs and salads. As is the case at Once Upon a Time in France, the menu will be filled with exported wines, beers and cocktails that can be hard to find elsewhere in Nashville, including up to 30 French liqueurs. Despite this, he intends to keep prices reasonable, with many cocktails ranging from $ 10 to $ 11 and many glasses of wine between $ 8 to $ 9. Arnt still owns the restaurant with his parents, and some will work there, but he has a manager and operates like a “well-oiled machine”. The constant success of the bistro has allowed him to grow and fulfill his dreams as a bar owner. The front corner of Overlord provides space for live jazz performances, what he envisions as ‘1930s and 1940s old school jazz’ where people will stand up and dance, not just sit on. their seats and pat their toes.
Arnt describes himself as “terrified of being bored,” so Overlord isn’t Arnt’s only new project. It also hangs wallpaper and pewter ceilings at L’Authentique, a small wine bar in the works (check out this space for more details soon). The three projects – Once Upon a Time in France, Overlord and The Authentique – demonstrate Arnt’s commitment to neighborhood owned and directed places in East Nashville. “I haven’t been here as long as everyone else, but I understand East Nashville and I understand that people here like real things,” he says. “You can lie in Midtown and you can lie in downtown, but you cannot lie in the East. Nashville. “
Arnt’s dream was to open on June 6, the anniversary of Operation Overlord, but pending inspections and permits, he thinks July is more realistic.