October 20, 2015

A Booming Nashville Welcomes Giants of Hospitality

Two days in Nashville just weren’t enough, according to those who attended the fourth annual Giants of Hospitality conference hosted by Interior Design (#IDhospitalitygiants) earlier this week.

The group of about 75 designers learned a little about Nashville from Johnny Cash’s granddaughter Hannah Crowell of Crowell + Co. Interiors , did dinner and bowling at the trendy Pinewood Social Club , and went on a backstage tour at The Grand Ole Opry (where Philip Bershad of Phillip Jeffries spotted the company’s wallcovering in the VIP room). These were only a few of the 2-day conference highlights that left many in the group vowing to return to the country music capital.

“I’m definitely coming back here,” said Milt Elliott, senior associate at FFKR Architects , who like most attending the conference were amazed at the number of new builds in and around downtown Nashville. Nick Dryden, principal at DA|AD , and a conference speaker, spent much of his time onstage speaking about the changing downtown area and the booming hospitality market that’s driving the growth.

In fact, there’s so much hospitality work that it’s become a challenge to find skilled contractors, according to Ben Goldberg of Strategic Hospitality who, along with his brother, Max, also spoke at the conference. “It definitely is a strain on budgets and schedules,” said Ben Goldberg during the brothers onstage talk with Interior Design editor in chief Cindy Allen who talked with them about their rise to the top of the Nashville hospitality food chain, as well as what is the secret to their success. Bottom: You have to love what you do.

When asked if their mother was proud of their success (the brothers recently opened Le Sel in Nashville, their eleventh restaurant), they both hesitated before replying that she’s still waiting for them to get “a real job.” The audience of hospitality designers laughed and nodded, as if acknowledging that they’ve heard this before.

A big thanks to our sponsors without whom we would not have been able to hold the Giants of Hospitality conference.

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