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‘Bight’ restaurant makes its Gainesboro debut

CBJ Admin
Tuesday, Nov 19, 2013

Bight of the Bend, a barbeque eatery now open in Gainesboro, brings a rustic feel to downtown. Centerpieces include this 15-foot community table and a center art piece fabricated with the assistance of the late Brother Mel, a prolific artist and Marianist brother who spent his life painting and sculpting works for the Catholic religious order.

GAINESBORO – It’s been many days – and weeks and months, admittedly – since plans for a second startup restaurant in downtown Gainesboro were announced.

But Kent Birdwell, a Jackson County native who’s behind the operation of that eatery, Bight of the Bend, has finally opened his doors to the public. The business, which carries a barbeque theme and will operate just a stones throw away from the Celtic pub Bull & Thistle, which partially served as its inspiration, is celebrating its official opening this weekend.

While Birdwell’s initial projection to open by this summer – July, at first – was seemingly optimistic in retrospect, he’s excited things are now full-go. He spent much of the time prior prepping the space at 106 Hull Ave. and practicing recipes on a small group of family and friends.

“This is me trying to settle my roots,” Birdwell said. “It’s really celebrating the heritage of the Upper Cumberland. That’s what this is about, coming home and celebrating our heritage.”

At first glance, it may seem like the restaurant is overly simple, with its two-tiered main menu of baby back ribs, barbecue chicken and seasonal sides, the meat slow-cooked in a smoker out back with homemade marinades and spices. Rustic yet contemporary. Food will be served on made-from-scratch barn door table tops. Seating is 100-year-old church pews. Lighting will be dimmed and lamped by Mason jars. Real candles will be used.

But that simplicity is purposeful – Birdwell wants Bight of the Bend (bight being a term used by riverboat captains in the past to describe the tip of the river’s curve, a characteristic of small-town Gainesboro) to be so much more.

While world travels and humanitarian work in impoverished nations did take him an ocean away and serves as the main driver for the eatery, he also wants to build on the success of the Bull & Thistle, which has received a warm welcome since opening in March, in order to boost his hometown’s repertoire.

“I hope I can maintain the momentum,” he said.

“It’s not your typical barbeque – it's kicked up a notch. These candles (for example) represent those special nights disconnected from modern conveniences and technology. You get to focus on you and the relationships you are surrounded by.

“The recipes I have are influenced by these great travels, from great friends, chefs we’ve met along the way,” Birdwell added.

As previously planned, Bight of the Bend will service a Friday and Saturday only crowd. Hours are 6-9 p.m. Reservations are strongly encouraged, especially for those traveling from outside Jackson County, due to the 50-seat capacity. The restaurant is also open to corporate and private parties through the week.

For more information or to make a reservation, call (931) 361-1601 or visit

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