Photo Credit: Photo credit: Heather Durham
Founder Creates World's Longest Bar To Give Everyone A Seat At The Table
Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey founders Fawn and Keith Weaver debuted their newest hospitality concept, Humble Baron. Located just outside of Nashville at Nearest Green Distillery, Humble Baron sits on a 432-acre property over four times the size of Disneyland. The establishment’s standout feature is a 518-foot-long bar, certified by Guinness as the World’s Longest Bar in March 2023. Owner Keith Weaver and his founding team are just getting started with big plans for live and large-scale events that give people a reason to make their way to Shelbyville, Tennessee.
The new Middle Tennessee destination brings elevated fare, creative cocktails and live music to the area. Guests can indulge in Uncle Nearest and other Black-owned spirits, while exploring the impressive cocktail program of signature libations. Humble Baron’s plans for live performances also are gaining steam with the Weavers’ deep music industry connections influencing the lineup.
Travel Noire spoke with the Weavers about their latest creation and future plans to bring elevated dining and hospitality experiences to Tennessee.
TN: For those who may not be familiar, can you bridge the gap between Humble Baron and Uncle Nearest?
KW: My wife and I co-founded Uncle Nearest. We came upon the story in 2016 and the brand came about a year later in 2017. She runs the company and does all this amazing stuff. When you start these spirits companies, you start as a brand [and] you’re not producing anything. You’re marketing and working with contract distillers and co-packers. As a company, we became successful, [and] we needed a home place to do that.
In Shelbyville, we’re almost an hour south of Nashville. To entice people to come to this beautiful property, we needed things to compel them. On 432 acres, we have the ability to build things that you usually can’t. It’s a horse breeding and training facility. It’s obviously built for distilling, bottling and retail experiences. We have something unique. We can have a culinary establishment, a bar and serve drinks of any sort here on this property.
When I was coming into this, we were like, ‘What are the things that would make it exciting?’ Fawn, because she’s amazing, said, ‘We’re going to build the longest bar in the world.’
From that, she moved on to her next brilliant idea. I said, ‘Okay, well, let me begin executing that.’ That’s where this was born, and that’s the connection to the property and the brand. It’s been incredible to see how it’s come to fruition and to see the people that have embraced it.
The bar is a love letter to all the things I described in terms of diverse perspectives [with an] emphasis on [other] Black-owned spirits companies too. Equiano, Hella Bitters, and Ten to One rum [are] in there.
We felt it important to see and support brands who don’t always get the love and present them in a very prominent way on the bar.
Travel Noire: How do you describe Humble Baron as a restaurant experience?
Keith Weaver: It’s here at Uncle Nearest Distillery, which is one of the fastest-growing distilleries in the country. This is our home place, [and] Humble Baron sits within this property.
My through line for it is everybody has a seat at the table. It’s a little reveal of my worldview, which is centered on equity and inclusion. That actually informed the design of the bar itself. My music tastes, my culinary tastes and my mixology tastes are diverse. The Uncle Nearest consumer is the same. It happens to fully align.
I’m really pleased that in this short time since it’s been open, it’s been received very well.
TN: Your entire executive team consists of Black professionals, including Chef G. Garvin as President of Culinary Operations. Can you speak to putting together that dream team?
KW: What I love is that we really approached who’s the best. It just happened to be all Black. For Chef Garvin, I said, ‘We really need someone who can execute it and elevate this.’ That resulted in Chef Craddick and Chef Yolanda Bostic, both of whom happened to be Black. I was looking for the best person to run operations, she happened to be Black.
For Uncle Nearest, we had a cocktail competition. It was global, [and] with the success of the brand, we had a lot of people apply to compete. DeAndre Jackson was one of the finalists and his cocktail won. [It was] his vibe [and] his energy. He not only made the best drink, but he presented well. This is on-brand for what I think Humble Baron will become.
I talked to him, and I said, ‘Hey, you got Beverly Hills and Regent Beverly Wilser and all that fancy stuff. I’ve got Shelbyville, Tennessee on this farm. Let’s talk.’ It worked. It’s just been really great.
In embarking upon the journey to hire this best-in-class team, what I’m proud of is I didn’t tell everybody, ‘Hey, they need to be Black.’ It just happened to be this way, and that’s happened throughout the whole company.
TN: As for the Humble Baron experience, what are the menu highlights as it relates to cocktails and food favorites?
KW: Our signature dish is a progression of what we have in Tennessee. There’s Nashville hot chicken everywhere, but we wanted to do it a little differently. We have Nashville hot shrimp and grits, and it’s an extraordinary dish. The grits are super creamy. The Nashville hot shrimp are delicious with crispy pancetta on the top. There’s nothing on the menu I don’t like.
On the drink side, starting with a tribute to my wife, we have a cocktail called Dear Fawn. It’s essentially an espresso martini, but instead of vodka, it has Uncle Nearest 1884 in it. It’s a wonderful drink.
The best-selling drink on the menu is the Humble Baron Old Fashioned – HBOF. There’s Sorel in it, so it’s got that hibiscus, herbaceous component added to the old fashion. Jackie Summers, the founder of Sorel, approves, [and] even better, our guests approve, too.
This article has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.