Tom Morales, owner of ACME Feed & Seed on Broadway in Nashville. Photo by Russell Rivers, Jr.

By Ms. June

NASHVILLE, TN — Tom Morales, the owner of ACME Feed & Seed located on Broadway, has surfaced as a beacon of hope for the safety and health mandate enforcement in Nashville’s once thriving hospitality industry. Morales, whose mother raised 10  kids, and then cooked for the Dismus house for 30 years, was schooled to do the right thing. No stranger to challenges he has dedicated most of his adult life to saving pieces of history in Nashville, from the Loveless Cafe to Woolworth and Acme Feed & Seed. A Nashville native, he started his entrepreneurial career as the backstage caterer at Starwood Amphitheater. That led to catering music videos and then a jump into “on location” film catering and his resume now includes over 2000 movies, some in far away places like New Zealand, Hungary, Spain and South America. A little company from Nashville was feeding the stars all over the

Metro Nashville police officers on Lower Broadway with maskless people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

world but realized his people were “burning out” and decided to invest in restaurants to give his movie people a place to rest and / or retire when the strain of the road became too much. At a time when Hollywood was evolving and embracing culture, uniqueness and individuality. Morales and his team were in the trenches providing the food and dining services to movie’s like  “A league of their Own” and “I am Legend” tasked with getting the diets ready for the Hollywood heavy hitters. His leadership, structure and style not only catapulted him into the forefront of global catering. An “old” school Father Ryan graduate during a time of activism as both the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war raging he stayed true to his mom’s teaching and his catholic roots. This  steered him to be an active community member embracing the tenants of the civil rights movement and applying them to the community as a whole.

With the COVID-19 mandates in March the hospitality industry was crushed to no fault of its own. Strong leadership was needed, it did not come nationally or for that matter locally. Morales has found himself fighting as a voice of reason within the community speaking out against the politicians in Davidson County that refuse to be firm on the masking mandates and issuance of citations in the downtown restaurants,  bars and music venues.  He has witnessed time and time again the safety of not only his restaurant patrons being compromised by reckless rebels on lower Broadway without masks, but also that of his own employees. The lack of people in the downtown office buildings, concert venues, sports arenas has amplified the type of guests we are getting, from the pedal taverns to college students all running wild. From witnessing the bridal parties in drunken stupors riding maskless on the “beer keg bicycles.” There is no enforcement of the very mandates the city has imposed with social media exposing Nashville’s finest posing with maskless tourists taking selfies instead of issuing clearly warranted citations. Morales stated, “Mayor Cooper is not fully invested in citing anyone with the need for tax revenues has him handcuffed, so Nashville is a COVID-19 incubator sending our visitors back to their hometowns to infect others.”  

The effects of the pandemic go deeper for Morales than money because ACME is an employer that wants to keep his staff working, he wants ACME to continue to be a safe place for the community patrons and he wants the governmental leadership at all levels to handle COVID-19 with dignity, issue mandates, give out citations to violators and do things right.  Morales stated, “ACME has spent over $70,000 in safety renovations, testing and training and they work hard to cater to the local community.” He further went on to explain that the rebel tourists are coming in from all areas of the globe and jeopardizing the locals who want to have recreation they can enjoy safely in their city. “It’s a waste that we take the patrons’  temperatures, reduce our capacity and then they want to come into our establishments and not social distance and run rampant without a mask after entering the door.” said Morales. This behavior not only places the customers at risk, but the city as a whole and it’s dangerous for our front-line workers, and especially those with pre-existing conditions.  According to Morales, “The Mayor’s office needs to enforce its own mandates on lower Broadway and send a strong message to the world that Nashville is a safe city, you can only do this with enforcement.” Instead, Nashville has been ridiculed on the celebrity Gossip magazine show TMZ and mocked as “No Maskville.” No conventions will book Nashville’s Music City Center until we convince them it’s a safe city.

Morales knows that this too shall pass, but as a provider that supports, encourages and uplifts local musicians and performers on his stages and  streaming platform, ACME Radio Live, he wants Nashville to land on the correct side of history with the pandemic. History is a livelihood for Morales, he is the man who brought Nashville Dancin’ in the District at a time when Nashville need to show it’s vitality as a city. Morales sees an investment in our civil rights history with aspirations to support preserving the Legacy of John Lewis and points to the Woolworth sit-in as indicators that things work well when done right.  

For more information about ACMES local performances, visit their website at WWW.AcmeRadioLive.Com or stop by at 101 Broadway in the heart of downtown.