Students express disappointment in Mellow Mushroom, Tavern permanently closing within one month

The restaurants cited understaffing and required renovations as cause for the closure.


Barrie Barto

Permanent closure sign at Mellow Mushroom on 21st Ave., as photographed on Oct. 9, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Barrie Barto)

Jacob Stoebner, Staff Writer

The Mellow Mushroom location on 21st Avenue recently closed permanently after 20 years of operation in part due to understaffing issues. Tavern, a former restaurant in Midtown and another popular dining location among students, similarly closed permanently on Sept, 13, 2022—11 years after its opening. 

Mellow Mushroom was part of Vanderbilt’s Taste of Nashville program, which allows Vanderbilt students to use Meal Money to purchase food at select Nashville restaurants. Other nearby Mellow Mushroom restaurants are located on Broadway in Downtown Nashville and in Franklin, Tennessee. In an Oct. 10 message to The Hustler, Campus Dining said that Meal Money funds do not apply to the other Mellow Mushroom locations since they are farther than a 10-to-15-minute walk from campus. 

“We hate to hear that [Mellow Mushroom] is closing. We are grateful that we had the opportunity to partner with their team,” Campus Dining said. “We are always open to adding new restaurants to the Taste of Nashville program and are open to suggestions.”

A former employee at the Mellow Mushroom location, who is being kept anonymous for fear of retribution, said the store was in need of a remodel, due to frequent flooding from heavy rain and necessary roof replacements. The employee said that the restaurant’s staff was working hard to keep it running despite these conditions, but a majority of the managerial staff became burnt out and quit between January-May 2022. According to the employee, remaining staff were told that the owner did not have the funds to remodel the location, and that the location would be closing permanently.

Tavern’s parent company, M Street Entertainment Group, announced the former restaurant’s closure via an Instagram post on Sept. 13. In the announcement, M Street Entertainment Group said all employees affected by the closure would be relocated to Saint Añejo, another restaurant owned by the group. The announcement similarly cited “required facility updates” for the closure, adding that they would be evaluating the future of the space. M Street Entertainment Group and Tavern’s manager did not respond to request for comment.

Junior Lukas Troost expressed shock about Tavern’s closure.

“Tavern’s closing came as a huge surprise to my friends and me,” Troost said. “Their brunch was fantastic and, every time we went, it was always super crowded.”

Junior Dillen Cameron said she was disappointed that Mellow Mushroom closed because she said it was an accessible dining option for students.

“I remember freshman year going after every Gen Chem exam, and it was always a relief to eat good pizza and hang out with friends,” Cameron said. “I also feel a sense of homesickness with it closing. There is a Mellow Mushroom where I am from, and my family has a tradition of ordering pizza and watching a movie every Friday night.”

Cameron said Mellow Mushroom also offered a unique atmosphere.

“I will definitely miss their parmesan pretzels but also the atmosphere of the restaurant,” Cameron said. “There is not another pizza place close to campus that measures up to what Mellow Mushroom offered.” 

Cameron described observing Mellow Mushroom’s understaffing issues this semester. 

“I was quite disappointed the one time I got to go this semester because the service had declined considerably,” Cameron said. “The food was still great as always, but there were maybe two people serving the entire restaurant on a weekend night.”

Sophomore Eshani Mehta said she was surprised to hear that Mellow Mushroom closed, especially because it hosted social events as well as serving food.

“I’ve only eaten there twice, but the pizza was good, and I’ve heard the trivia nights were fun,” Mehta said.