New music venue might open in three months, says founder

The Tin Roof live music venue could be open near the University of Kentucky campus in three months if the operators can get the approvals they need from the Urban County Government, founder Jason Sheer said Tuesday.

The first step, he said, is getting a building permit to allow him to double the size and add a large deck to the former Huddle House restaurant at 303 South Limestone, where The Tin Roof will be.

"It won't be recognizable," he said of the small 1,937-square-foot Huddle House, noting the renovation will add some spaces to the 24-space parking lot.

The Tin Roof, which has locations in Nashville and Franklin, Tenn., is a restaurant, bar and stage where singers and small musical groups entertain.

Performers typically include local groups and national headliners, such as Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney and Jon Bon Jovi, who have performed at the Nashville area locations.

"You never know who is going to sit on the stage and start singing," Sheer said. "It's pretty wide open."

The Tin Roof caters to families — Sheer has three children who eat there — as well as young professionals, students and 70-year-old retirees who come to the Nashville location for lunch.

The menu is not typical bar food, he said. "It's more like homemade. It's not just stuff we chuck in a deep fryer. We don't even have a microwave."

The music is not loud, Sheer continued. It is generally singles, duos and trios who sing or play instrumentals of their choice. All types of music are welcome.

Sheer said a drop box will be placed at the Lexington site as soon as construction begins so that local groups can begin leaving recordings and other material for managers to review.

"We are certainly looking for a lot of local talent," he said.

The Lexington location will be managed by Wes Stephens and Tim Gibbons, two longtime Tin Roof employees who will be part-owners of the local Tin Roof.

Sheer, 37, is a New York native who has lived in both Atlanta and Nashville. He started the first Tin Roof in Atlanta in 1995, but sold it before opening in Tennessee.

He plans to open three or four more Tin Roofs in the 18 months after he opens in Lexington. Future locations include Louisville; Birmingham, Ala.; and one or two cities in Florida, he said.