Submit your Retail & Restaurant Facility Business 2019 Goldbook listing. Click here for details.

Automatic For the People

One easy-to-use control & automation system transforms both the customer and staff experience in two popular Nashville bars.

By Joe Lautner

When opening their Nashville establishments, the owners of the Nashville Underground Bar & Restaurant and the Famous Saloon both knew that in addition to great food and beverages, entertaining musical performances and unbeatable rooftop views, technology would play a huge role in helping them stand out against the existing Lower Broadway nightlife. To make their dreams a reality, one central control & automation system was installed in each bar, giving them access to their audio, video, lighting and more — all at the touch of a button.

First and foremost, the control & automation system installed in both venues helps to transform these big spaces into easily manageable ones. With the system in place, staff has complete control over the audio, video and lighting and security, from anywhere at any time. This allows owners and staff to easily manage daily operations and enhances the overall vibe for customers looking to have a great time.

NU1 4Creating a unique experience in the Nashville Underground started with the installation of five static cameras pointing at the stage, penthouse dance floor and rooftop. The footage was then configured to be sent to the displays throughout the venue, helping to lure people on the first floor to the rooftop and vice versa, and adding an element of security to the large space. Through the control system, staff is able to use the cameras to market to the outside passersby on Lower Broadway by sending content to outdoor speakers, allowing them to market themselves from inside, using their own technology.

At Nashville Underground, the control & automation system also controls and streams content to one of the bar’s most spectacular features: a 14-foot by 10-foot high-resolution LED video dance floor embedded into the floor, allowing staff to manipulate the scene at the touch of a button. Light dimmers and stage lights were also integrated into the control system for seamless control and automation throughout the bar with specific event scenes configured for lunch, dinner, cleaning and early morning opening. Plus, staff can easily control any of the lights around the stage during a live performance at the touch of a button. Joey DeGraw, co-owner of the Nashville Underground, says “the capabilities of the system are endless, and the technology really does ‘wow’ people. Using displays, audio and lighting to impress our customers has become a staple of the hospitality experience.”

IMG 0526 EditAround the corner from the Nashville Underground, the Famous Saloon was equipped with a lighting system that is nothing short of show-stopping. Throughout the venue, hundreds of Tape Light LED strips were installed, including underneath the bar itself, and integrated into the control system with time-specific “Event Maps.” This way, all of the LED lighting throughout the venue operates on a time schedule; in the morning, the lights power on and create a ‘pulsing’ effect. By the evening, the lights are fully ramped up and dancing in a dazzling show. With this system in place, the staff no longer has to worry about manipulating the lighting upon opening or for the nighttime transition.

Also integrated throughout the venue is lighting — with keypads, repeaters and dimmers — which communicates with the control system and integrates with theatrical stage lighting for live concerts. In addition to creating specific ‘concert’ scenes through the control system accessed by owners and staff, the control app was installed on an iPad so that any performer can adjust and customize the stage lighting for their show.

“All of Nashville’s musicians want to play here for this reason. Between the high-end acoustics, and the control we give them over the lights, we’ve set a new standard for bar-performing bands. Every musician that plays here loves it, and asks to come back!” says May West, owner of the Famous Saloon.

IMG 0482 EditLike the event scenes configured in the Nashville Underground, the Famous Saloon set specific scenes for audio and video, which can be changed depending on the event that the Famous Saloon is hosting, such as ‘dinner party’ or ‘live event.’

Also within the Famous Saloon is an extensive security system, integrated with the control & automation system installed in the space to allow owners to check in on the venue from outside of the bar. Through the app installed on their phones, they’re able to view live streaming video feeds of the space, from anywhere at any time.

“It gives me peace of mind to know that I can always check on the building,” West says.

In a business where every day is unpredictable, having the ability to manipulate the bar’s music, climate and more — from anywhere in the world, through one central control & automation system — has given the Famous Saloon and the Nashville Underground owners and staff the tools that they need to be in control. The instant accessibility to any system throughout each venue has completely changed how the owners and staff manage the bars and has allowed them to create unique audio and visual experiences that impress customers and set their hospitality experiences apart from others.


— Joe Lautner is vice president of strategic solutions at Nortek Security & Control, sister company of ELAN, which develops an award-winning line of whole-house entertainment and control solutions distributed through a comprehensive channel of select dealers throughout the United States, Canada and countries worldwide. For more information, visit

Tagged under