East Nashville has risen up against a local institution, 3 Crow Bar, after word quickly spread that the loyal employees who helped the beloved bar survive the pandemic and re-open were recently rewarded for their hard work with ‘pink slips’ – an Op-Ed contribution by Kevin Teets.
I could hear the sirens in the distance, but it was the phone call from my neighbor, Spencer Thomas, that caused me to grab my dog and a blanket and run to the lower-level of my apartment and take cover from the tornado that Spencer said had just ripped off the roof of 3 Crow bar. The tone of his voice as he yelled in the phone telling me to take cover removed any doubt at all that this tornado was serious.
Thankfully, I was spared from the storm, but so many were not. Homes were destroyed and businesses were leveled. Their stories deserve to be told. Those stories include moments of pure luck and heroism that saved lives. Moments before he called me, Spencer stepped outside of 3-crow for a smoke and was joined by two of 3-crows employees, Josh and Eric. The three of them could see exploding transformers off in the distance as the twister crossed the Cumberland River and made its way into the heart of East Nashville.
Talk about being at the right place at the right time. Spencer, Josh and Eric stepped outside and saw the storm spiraling with terror in their direction. Spencer was able to direct people into the bathrooms and Josh and Eric were able to direct people into the walk-in-cooler. Seconds later a tornado with winds of more than 130 miles per hour destroyed the tables and chairs where patrons were previously seated. The roof was completely removed from the building.
In large part to Spencer, Josh and Eric’s actions, no one at 3 Crow was injured. I am not surprised by the quick action of these heroes. Not only are they some of the kindest people I have met, but the people inside that building were also more than just customers and warm bodies to these men; they were family. They knew each other by name. If you have been to 3-crow, you likely understand what I mean.
Family helps family. Neighbors help neighbors. And we are in this together. This ethos runs through the veins of everyone in East Nashville from the hipsters doing skateboard tricks to the smiling faces pouring our drinks and the people who make being weird simply perfect. The diversity, friendliness, weirdness and love are what defines those of us on this side of the river.
When my friend Seth Thomas and I arrived at the heart of 5-points the next morning with chainsaws in hand, my heart was literally torn in two directions. I wanted to cry at the sight of the devastation. My imagination could never have envisioned telephone poles twisted in so many directions. And I wanted to cry at the number of people who were already there picking up debris and helping the community that we love begin the long process to recovery.
Seth and I started cutting up the trees that had fallen on 3-crow. Every other time I stood on this patio, I had a vodka drink called a Beyonce in my hand. But on this day, it was a chainsaw called Stihl. The wrecked trees I was removing had provided shade for me and hundreds of Hotmess kickball players on Sunday afternoons. I reflected on how quickly so much could change as I worked side-by-side dozens of other people who were simply there to help our fellow Nashvillians. This place was special to Seth and I for other reasons too. It is where Seth’s fiancé, Madi, worked. She and the many other beautiful souls inside that building were always there to provide us an amazing experience, to laugh with us, and to listen to us when we need an ear to talk to.
That is what bartenders and servers do. But on this day, they needed our help. Little did we know, the tornado was only the beginning of just how bad life would get for our friends in the food and restaurant industry. But, like they say, family takes care of family. Friends take care of friends. We are in this together.
That is—until we are not.
Unfortunately, not all stories coming out of a pandemic and disaster are about camaraderie and brotherly and sisterly love. There have been stories of looters stealing what little merchandise or equipment remained after the tornado destroyed businesses. There have been stories of scam-artists praying upon the vulnerable. And then today there is the news that 3 Crow will open their doors tomorrow without a single one of the employees that made that place a neighborhood bar filled with laughs, love, and community.
Perhaps part of growing up is realizing that not all stories have fairytale endings. Not everyone pays it forward, as they say. The bar 3 Crow certainly has not. They used the labor, time, sweat, muscle, and grit of many of their employees to help piece the bar back together. One of my friends that works there is a single mother, who I will call Sandra, who painted nearly all of the walls inside the building and hung-up art and other décor to give the bar its familiar atmosphere and feel.
Sandra and others who helped rebuild the venue were proud of what they had accomplished when the bars doors were opened just a few days ago. They were ready to welcome back the patrons they know and love—to welcome back the people they consider family.
But instead of being greeted with tips from their customers that dearly missed them, they were greeted with proverbial pink slips from the new management hired by the bar’s owners. Many of the bars staff, some who had worked there for over 15 years, were fired. Those who were not fired were told they could walk out the door if they did not like the new direction of the business. And that is exactly what they did. They felt betrayed and were disgusted that their peers and fellow co-workers, their family, could be treated like this after everything they have been through in the past year.
Knowing the way 3 Crow has treated these men and women makes me beyond upset and angered. But the gas poured on my anger can be seen in the social media posts that the bar makes and how they try to position themselves as stewards of kindness, part of the East Nashville community helping one another. Nothing could be further from the truth and their efforts to prey upon and hijack those very sentiments of family and togetherness are beyond shameful.
In a New Years Eve Facebook post, the bar writes:
“Hello 2021! Last year was a struggle for everyone. 3 Crow Bar lost the roof to a tornado in March followed by pandemic closures. Through it all, our crew stayed strong. Employees pitched in to help with the clean up and rebuild and our loyal neighbors and customers supported us in so many ways. Today the building is back and better than ever and we are doing our best to provide a safe and welcoming place where everyone can share some fun with friends. Thanks to all who helped us get here. We love ya! Who wants a beer? Who wants a Bushwacker?”
Look at the words from their own mouth to see that they used their employees’ sweat and labor to get the doors of their business back up and running. Do not just take my word for it. I commented on their post asking why they fired the very people that helped them open their doors. I did not get an answer. My comment was immediately deleted.
Perhaps they thought deleting my comment would cause me to keep my mouth shut. They were partially correct. My mouth will be shut as it pertains to eating or drinking in their establishment ever again. But my mouth will be wide open to tell the story that yes there are many good people that have offered helping hands to our servers and bartenders drowning during these tough times… and then there are those at 3 Crow who have offered their own drowning employees a glass of water and a layoff after everything they have endured.
The actions of 3 Crow are far from family taking care of family or friends taking care of friends. And it is most certainly, not the Nashville way. So long, 3 Crow.
-Kevin Teets | Nashville, TN