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Reese Witherspoon's Draper James is dressing up The Hermitage Hotel's Afternoon Tea
By Margaret Littman for Nashville Scene online

After months of anticipation, signs of The Hermitage Hotel’s renovation and new restaurants are starting to be visible to the public. Next month the hotel plans to open its new restaurant, Drusie & Darr (essentially the old Capitol Grille and Oak Bar), which is named after Drusie and Darr Hall, the children of the hotel’s former general manager, Dick Hall. The brother and sister grew up in the hotel, and the name is intended as both a nod to the hotel’s history and a reflection of the lighter, modern essence of the renovated landmark.

Earlier this year The Hermitage Hotel announced that celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten would be overseeing the overhaul of the former Capitol Grille, making this his first project in the Southeast. As the Scene detailed in June, even in a city that has many talented and high-profile chefs, this is big news for Nashville. Vongerichten is also at the helm at The Pink Hermit, which will be an Instagrammable café with both quick eats and to-go dishes. With a direct entrance from the outside, you won’t have to (or get to) walk through the magnificent lobby. The Pink Hermit is intended for locals headed to a night at TPAC as much as guests at the hotel, and continues the efforts to update for the future while honoring the past.

Kelsi Armijo has been named executive chef of the two restaurants. “[Armijo] is a great talent who distinguished herself when we worked together at Jean-Georges Steakhouse at ARIA,” Vongerichten says in a statement. “She has helmed some of the most innovative Michelin-starred kitchens in the U.S., and I am delighted to work with her in her new role as executive chef at Drusie & Darr to bring the restaurant to life and introduce a spirited new dining experience to Nashville.”

A member of Historic Hotels of America, The Hermitage Hotel was the homebase for the suffragettes who had come to Tennessee to convince the state legislators to ratify the 19th amendment. With Molly Hardie and her husband Robert as owners and Dee Patel as managing director, Armijo joins a strong women-led team at a historic hotel that, among other things, is known for being a notable landmark of the suffrage movement

Part of their renovations include making the restaurant’s women’s restroom as compelling as the men’s has been. And this week the hotel launched one more female collaboration. The hotel’s afternoon tea, which will be served on the Veranda (where the aforementioned suffrage activities took place), is now a “Spillin’ Tea With Draper James” event. The Veranda features a ceiling painted with a blue sky and clouds, and the room is flooded with natural light.

Draper James, the clothing and lifestyle brand owned by Nashville native Reese Witherspoon, designed The Hermitage Ditsy Floral, a signature blue floral print that adorns the napkins, menu and uniforms of the staff. (Designs with The Hermitage Ditsy Floral are sold both at Draper James and in the Hermitage gift shop.) Inspired by Witherspoon’s Whiskey in a Teacup cookbook, the afternoon tea includes a menu with the classic three-tiered plates of pimento cheese, cucumber and curry chicken salad sandwiches, plus scones with lemon curd, and more. “Spillin’ Tea with Draper James” starts this Friday, Oct. 22, and will be offered Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m. And yes, whiskey (Jack Daniel’s Yellow Rose, which honors suffrage) is served in a teacup.

Discover the fascinating history of The Hermitage Hotel and book your stay!
Read the full article from Nashville Scene here.

About Historic Hotels of America®
Historic Hotels of America is the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation for recognizing and celebrating the finest Historic Hotels. Historic Hotels of America has more than 300 historic hotels. These historic hotels have all faithfully maintained their authenticity, sense of place, and architectural integrity in the United States of America, including 44 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Historic Hotels of America is comprised of mostly independently owned and operated historic hotels. More than 30 of the world’s finest hospitality brands, chains, and collections are represented in Historic Hotels of America. To be nominated and selected for membership into this prestigious program, a hotel must be at least 50 years old; has been designated by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior as a National Historic Landmark or listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places; and recognized as having historic significance.