Lightning 100: Michael Dorf on Music Business Radio

Lightning 100 recently featured City Winery Founder and CEO Michael Dorf on their Sunday night Music Business Radio program hosted by David Hooper.

In 1986, at only 23 years old, Dorf founded The Knitting Factory, New York City’s go-to venue for independent music. Since that time, he produced over 200 records, a TV series, and become a very respected producer and promoter of indie music.

Dorf talks about his early career on the road managing artists, starting the Knitting Factory, record producing and how his love of music and wine lead to the creation of City Winery’s truly unique dining and concert experience.

Listen to the full interview below.

The Tennessean: Kristin Beringson blends Southern, Greek at City Winery

beringsonChef Kristin Beringson has been busy to say the least, having recently filmed an episode of “Chopped” and left Holland House to lead the kitchen at the new City Winery Nashville. We caught up with Beringson about her new gig.

Why did you decide to make the switch from Holland House to City Winery? I had been at Holland House for three and a half years. I felt I had grown all I could grow as a chef under that roof. The opportunity arose, and I really thought it would be a good chance to try new things. It was a 360 — a music venue, all this private event space, I could grow in a different way.

What was your goal for the menu? It’s very much foods that pair well with wines. It has a lot of Mediterranean influence, so French, Spanish, Italian, a little bit of Middle Eastern and especially Greek. I was born in Greece, so there’s a little Greek influence in everything I do. At Holland House, I kept it more contemporary American, Southern cuisine. Here it’s more Mediterranean flavors with a little bit of Southern flair. Like I have risotto balls, but instead of being stuffed with traditional flavors, it’s stuffed with pimiento cheese and short ribs.

How did you learn to cook? I didn’t start cooking until maybe five years ago. Cooking has always been something I loved. I was managing Target stores for years. I said, “I’m ready to be happy.” I enrolled in culinary school the next day.

What is your favorite dish off the menu? I’ve got my take on French onion soup, but it’s called Nash Onion Soup. It’s got smoked bone marrow and Kenny’s (Farmhouse) horseradish cheddar with house-made sourdough.

We have over 400 (wine) bottles and we do our own wines, but, unfortunately, we haven’t been able to make it on site yet. In the beginning of the year, when Tennessee law changes, we’ll be crushing grapes and barreling and aging on site. It will be a full service winery.

Describe your most memorable food moment. Recently one of my most memorable dining experiences I was up in New York City and I ate at Gramercy Tavern and got to meet chef Michael Anthony. I had the chance to see the kitchen. We ate 11 courses. The service and hospitality was completely beautiful and wonderful.

I filmed an episode for “Chopped” there. It’s airing soon. It’s called “Frankly Frantic.” It was crazy, but it was worth it.

What is your favorite tool and ingredient at the moment? Favorite ingredient is easy — it’s honey. I put local honey in just about everything I make. I think every dish needs a perfect bit of sweetness. And honey is so much better than sugar on so many levels. Tool: I have this one little knife I’ve had forever. I call it Woody. If I lose it, I lose my mind.

For the full Tennessean article, click here.

Warm Up with a Glass of Wine and Our Fireplace

restaurant fireplace

As the temperatures drop outside, stay warm inside with a seat by our fireplace and a glass of City Winery North Coast Zin. It pairs perfectly with Chef Kristin’s spice crusted lamb loin. We  lit the restaurant fireplace for the first time today. Come down and warm up with us daily starting at 5pm.

restaurant fireplace 2

Billboard: City Winery Finds New Home in Nashville


There’s no shortage of performance venues in Nashville — it is Music City, after all — but Michael Dorf, owner of the just-opened City Winery, says he feels his establishment will offer fans a unique opportunity when watching live entertainment that will keep them coming back for more.

The businessman opened the first City Winery in New York. The original location allowed him to pair a winery with a music venue and see how the two could smash up in a city like New York. “I had been putting on shows for a long time and have been on tour with a number of bands,” he said. “I’ve done that for about 30 years. There was a need and an obvious opportunity for a higher-end concert experience that combined the elements of a seated environment with food and beverages into the overall experience. People are looking for more than French fries and beer. People care where their food comes from.”

Since then, Dorf has opened two other locations, in Chicago and Napa Valley. What led him to Nashville? “We were looking at where we really wanted to start to grow and show off the model, and there were a host of them. Nashville has so many great ingredients that it was a no-brainer. Between the convention center and what is going on from a real estate perspective, it just made sense. Obviously, the music industry is very well entrenched in Nashville and has been for a long time. But there was a missing piece between the Ryman and the smaller tourist venues on Broadway. There are some great venues like Franklin Theater and 3rd and Lindsley, but no one was approaching the culinary side the same way we are.”

The menu offers such fare as duck tacos, pan-roasted flatiron and leg of lamb flatbread, while the wine list includes over 400 selections. Musically, the lineup is very diverse, with such performers as Sandra Bernhard, Lucinda Williams, Dr. Ralph Stanley, K.T. Oslin and Joan Osborne booked for the fall lineup. Dorf says he wants a visit to City Winery to be one his clientele doesn’t forget.

“We really try to look at the complete experience at City Winery,” he said. “Years ago, we started a policy of having all of our staff read the book Setting the Table by Danny Meyer, a restaurateur from New York.  It’s a book about enlightened hospitality and that the customer experience starts from the first moment you plan a visit to a venue to the memories that you have after you leave. We pay a lot of attention to the ticketing process — how customers learn about the shows, and even how they pick their seat. We’ve built a proprietary ticketing program that allows the patron to pick the actual seat that they sit in. If you become a VinoFile member, our annual membership program, you get advance notice when we announce the concert. As a member, you don’t have to pay any service charges. We know what it’s like when you want to see a show, and it might cost $25 to $40, and there’s a $9 service fee added on top of that, which can really be frustrating.”

If his past successes are any indication, Dorf is betting that Tennesseans will make City Winery a favorite hotspot in The 615 by simply satisfying the senses. “We believe what you hear, what you smell and taste all come together to enhance the experience. We look at the holistic 360-degree experience that a customer is going to have to make the evening as memorable and special as possible. Time is a precious commodity, and we all have choices as to where we spend that time. We want to make those couple of hours as terrific as possible. It then becomes self-fulfilling. When the artist knows that their fans are enjoying themselves, they put on a better show. I think we’ve built a better mousetrap, and I think people will love it in a town where people love music, wine and food.”


For the full Billboard article, click here.

City Winery Celebrates Grand Opening

On Wednesday, October 1, nearly 1,100 people celebrated the highly-anticipated Grand Opening of City Winery’s newest venue in Nashville. Guests toured the variety of spaces City Winery has to offer including a VIP lounge, three patios, two restaurant areas and three private dining rooms. Patrons were able to taste wine from City Winery’s one-of-a-kind tap system. They also sampled selections from Chef Kristin Beringson’s new menu including Crispy Risotto Balls, Corned Duck Tacos and Wagyu Beef Tartare.

Founder and Owner, Michael Dorf welcomed the crowd and introduced Corel Chisel who once again commanded the City Winery stage. Corey’s soulful performance backed up by his doo-wop band was well-received by the engaged and energetic audience.

Special thank you to our City Winery Partners Reidel and Meyer Sound and our Grand Opening Sponsors, Lightning 100, Nashville Scene, Lipman Brothers, Uber, GFS, KLD Farms, Graceful Tables, Music City Tents & Events, A Village of Flowers and Notes for Education.

City Winery Nashville - Grand OpeningSherry Byrge, Founder and Owner, Michael Dorf and Chuck Byrge

City Winery Nashville - Grand OpeningKen Pelletier and Amanda Lao

 City Winery Nashville - Grand OpeningMichael Dorf welcomes the crowd.

City Winery Nashville - Grand OpeningDeana Ivey from the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation welcomes City Winery to Nashville.

City Winery Nashville - Grand OpeningCorey Chisel

City Winery Nashville - Grand OpeningCorey Chisel and City Winery Staffer Chelsea Bell

City Winery Nashville - Grand OpeningChef Kristin Berginson with party guests.

For more photos visit our Facebook page.  All photos by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for City Winery.