Nashville's Family Room
The Family Wash | familywash.com
626A Main Street | @familywash
Like a good song, you won’t be able to shake The Family Wash. It may be in a new location, but it hums along as East Nashville’s home away from home with some of the best music in town.
It’s a Tuesday night in early September 2008. A lively crowd crams into a former laundromat to listen to live music, drink some beers, and eat shepherd’s pie. I’m at The Family Wash for the first time on a first date, sitting next to some cute guy I hardly know. In the crowded space, a stranger gives up a seat so we can sit together. It’s Pint & Pie Night. My date and I split a pie, and he sips the pint. As the band plays, conversations hush and The Wash fills with sounds of music and the clinks of forks on plates. The shepherd’s pie is savory and rich—the best I have ever had—and the atmosphere hums with good energy. Best first date ever. We get married.
But this isn’t a story about me. This is a story about The Family Wash, a Nashville restaurant launched by a group of friends as a place to gather. For twelve years, The Wash(as its devoted patrons affectionately call it) has served up excellent food and drink along with some first-rate music. While trendy restaurants come and go, The Wash has become something of an institution. Why? The Wash has always been classically hip, fresh yet familiar, and effortlessly cool.
Jamie Rubin—a friendly, professional rocker with spikey hair—started The Wash as a neighborhood joint that provided great food and a cozy atmosphere for talented musicians, a sort of “everybody’s living room” for anyone to hear any kind of music. “This is the Nashville story, really,” says Jamie, explaining how his friends got together to create something meaningful for themselves and wound up creating something meaningful for others as well—just like a good song. Jamie wanted to provide a place where patrons could enjoy multiple genres from a variety of artists.” Anything can happen on any night,” he says with a grin.
But success brings its own challenges, and The Wash’s popularity outgrew its original stage, kitchen, and dining areas. Many of the regulars mourned the transition from the unique (but crumbling) laundromat to the new building.” People don’t want change, but they want something better,” John Stephenson says. John joined The Family Wash group of partners—to also include Garage Coffee’s Robert Camardo and artist manager Mitchell Fox—for the relaunching of the new location in September 2015.
The partners decorated the new space themselves, making sure to put all The Wash’s beloved tchotchkes “back in the same place.” They also designated a long wall for old family photos. Unlike many places that hang anything that looks nostalgic (I doubt the couple on the wall at Cracker Barrel are related to the hostess), their wall is truly made up of family photos. Pus, keeping music central to its mission—and keeping ties to what made Nashville so darn cool in the first place—the stage is now larger and a new studio allows The Wash to record live shows, an excellent way to keep the local music scene shining bright.
Speaking of bright points, I also highly recommend The Wash for a first date. The place has a little bit of magic to it.
For regular music events check out The Family Wash calendar online at familywash.com.