Food

First Watch brings brunch boards and cocktail flights to menu at newest location

To mark the opening of its new location in Downtown Nashville, the breakfast-lunch concept is giving Music City guests a little something different.
First Watch designed the Nashville location with a private reservable space for larger groups--a first for the chain. | Photos courtesy of First Watch.

First Watch opened its newest location earlier this month in Downtown Nashville, a block away from all the round-the-clock action on Broadway.

While this capital of Tennessee is known as “Music City,” it’s also gaining fame—and visitors—for another reason.

“Nashville has grown so much in the last 10 to 15 years, and it’s turned into the bachelorette party capital of the U.S.,” said Shane Schaibly, Sr. VP of culinary strategy for Bradenton, Fla.-based First Watch.

Bachelorettes are looking for celebratory group experiences, so when it came time to build out the space and the menu, Schaibly and the team curated some features exclusive to the new Nashville location.

Sweets board

Broadway Brunch Boards are exclusive to the new Nashville restaurant. This sweet version features pancakes, French toast, berries and toppings for three to four guests to share.

Shareables topped the list, so Schaibly created Broadway Brunch Boards, “a take on charcuterie boards,” he said. There’s a savory board that includes the chain’s signature maple-glazed Million Dollar Bacon, house-baked buttermilk biscuits, turkey sausage gravy and strawberry preserves.

For partiers with a sweet tooth, there’s a brunch board with pancakes, custard-dipped French toast, strawberries and toppings. The pancakes are the same recipe that’s served in all the other First Watch locations, but here they’re made slightly smaller for the board presentation.

Each brunch board serves three to four people, and large tables can order several. “Everything on the boards is cross-utilized from our regular menu so we didn’t overtax the kitchen,” said Schaibly.

With the same goal of shareability, the breakfast-lunch concept expanded its beverage service to offer cocktail flights and pitchers. Guests can order a DIY mimosa flight, for example, that comes to the table with a large bottle of champagne and carafes of lavender lemonade, pomegranate juice and orange juice.

cocktail flight

Shareable cocktail flights include four First Watch signature batched drinks served in a bucket with a glassware and garnishes. 

There’s also a flight of First Watch signature cocktails featuring cinnamon toast cereal milk, bloody Marys and blackberry bramble sangria. Each is served mixed and bottled, with a set-up of glasses. Tables that prefer hard seltzer can opt for a bucket of High Noons.

“We brainstormed lots of great ideas for shareables, but some wouldn’t work out efficiently for the kitchen teams,” he said. One idea that was axed: A breakfast sandwich sampler.

A different kind of setting

At many First Watch locations, it’s first-come, first-served, with customers sometimes waiting on long lines to be seated.

For the first time, the Downtown Nashville restaurant offers a private, reservable space for larger parties at no additional charge. The 4,000-square-foot-plus unit can also seat more than 130 people. That includes a 12-seat bar and counter that looks out into the action on the street.

The decor is a little different too. Local artist Maggie Sanger designed a custom ceiling mural with a vibrant floral motif. And a couple of new pieces of serving ware—boards and buckets— were brought in for the shareable brunch boards and cocktail flights.

“We didn’t have enough square footage for live music, but we want to provide a bit of a reprieve from all the musical activity on Broadway,” said Schaibly.

First seasonal menu of 2024

Right around the same time as the Downtown Nashville opening, First Watch launched its “Jump Start” winter menu on Jan. 9, the first of five seasonal menus that rotate in throughout the year. Schaibly was inspired by specialties of New York City and Mexico City for a couple of the new items.

Brooklyn breakfast sandwich

The Jump Start menu for winter includes a Brooklyn Breakfast Sandwich layered with hot pastrami. 

The Brooklyn Breakfast Sandwich features a revered New York culinary tradition: Hot pastrami, “held just like they do in a Brooklyn deli,” he said. Piled on a griddled everything-bagel-seasoned brioche bun, the shaved pastrami is layered with Gruyere cheese, house-roasted onions, an over-easy egg, house-pickled red onions, mayo and Dijon mustard.

Flavors of Mexico City show up in the Barbacoa Chilaquiles Breakfast Bowl. It’s a combo of braised beef barbacoa, cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, salsa roja and crispy corn tortilla chips, topped with avocado, lime crema, cotija cheese and scallions. The hearty bowl is served with cheesy scrambled eggs, black beans and pico de gallo.

Rounding out the “Jump Start” menu are Blackberry Lemon Cream French Toast with spiced gingerbread cookie crumbs and Holey Donuts—cinnamon sugar-dusted donut holes with chocolate sauce and warm berry compote for dipping. On the beverage side is Mango  Passion Palmer Juice made with green tea and ginger.

While the brunch boards and cocktail flights are exclusive to Downtown Nashville, they could potentially show up in other units. “There’s an opportunity to put these shareables into locations near stadiums and arenas, if they fly,” said Schaibly.

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