In about a week-and-a-half, Brown County will bid farewell to a business that has been operating in Nashville, in one place or another, since 1949.

The Pine Room Tavern/Muddy Boots will close its doors under the ownership of Betsy and James Oblack on Saturday, Nov. 11.

The restaurant has been for sale for months, and no one has bought it yet.

But it’s not going quietly. A celebration will begin at 8 a.m. Nov. 11, with music starting at 6 p.m. and lasting until around midnight. Flatland Harmony Experiment and the Indiana Boys are slated to play with a community jam closing the night.

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The Oblacks have owned the Pine Room since 2012. In 2015, they moved their first restaurant, the Muddy Boots, under the same roof in Salt Creek Plaza.

The couple bought the Muddy Boots a few months after they met in 2009, and that’s about all they’ve done since, Betsy Oblack said. Up until that point, Oblack had been retired for about 10 years and was “just living the life of relaxation.”

“Little did I know,” she said with a laugh.

Betsy, 69 and James, 72, want more time to travel and to visit their grandchildren, who are in New York, Philadelphia, Denver and Singapore.

“We wanted to have a life, and actually see people and do things, when we realized we actually weren’t going to live forever. That was the reason why we put it up for sale initially,” she said.

“It’s like, ‘Gee, I wonder what life is going to be like when we’re together and we don’t own a restaurant?’”


The Pine Room Tavern originally was in downtown Nashville, in an alley behind North Van Buren Street.

It moved to its current location on Chestnut Street in the 1980s.

Betsy Oblack said the bar in the restaurant now is the original one from 1949.

“It’s gone through multiple owners and personalities. I hear the biker bar stories,” Oblack said.

Oblack describes The Pine Room/Muddy Boots now as a restaurant that serves liquor, not a bar.

Live music is staged nearly every night. A breakfast group meets there regularly. There are even several menu items named after longtime customers.

“Honestly, everyone who knows us would say we’ve always been about providing a place for the community, a place for the arts, a place for the music and jobs for locals. That’s been the motivating force since 2009,” Oblack said. “Actually, since Brian and I worked at the hardware store.”

Oblack and her late husband, Brian Cook, opened Cook Hardware, which is now Bear Hardware, in 1995. They would visit The Pine Room often for lunch or snacks while working at the store.

One of the changes the Oblacks made to the Pine Room was to create a family section by putting up booth partitions.

“When we bought (the Pine Room), it was totally a bar. … We remodeled and rented this other side (next to Pine Room) because there had been no one there for years. We totally gutted it, completely put the Boot side there and transferred everything over here,” Oblack said.

The Boot side has pool tables and darts; the Pine Room side features family dining and an adults-only bar section.

“It’s basically one restaurant with the same menu and same staff,” she said.

The Oblacks also built the stage for music and added a sound system. The live music tradition started at the Muddy Boots in 2010.

“We’ve gotten wonderful experiences, and become way more family-friendly. People can bring their kids in here and feel comfortable,” she said.

The couple bought the Muddy Boots in 2009 when co-owner Tyra Miller was selling it.

“We were all afraid the Boot was going to close. James and I knew nothing about restaurants. We went, ‘Why don’t we buy it?’” Oblack said.

“We learned as we went. We have lots of good help” — especially managers Richard Gist and Marti Garvey.

“They have both been my rocks. I could not have done it without those two, not at all. I would not ever have wanted to, or never had been able to,” Oblack said.

Saying goodbye

The Pine Room/Muddy Boots is listed through Hills O’Brown Carpenter Realty for $150,000. It was initially listed for $195,000.

She said there are a couple of people who are interested, but “who knows what will happen?”

“We still have a lease, so we’re going to shut down the kitchen and eat all of the perishables. We’re still going to be paying utilities and the rent,” Oblack said.

The decision was made to close for the winter for financial reasons. “We’ve always been able to do it in the past, and this year it’s not going to happen,” she said.

“It’s really sad. We’ve all been crying. It’s not like we want to not have the jobs available and everything,” she said.

She said the staff has been “wonderful and supportive” during this time. “(We told them) we appreciate two weeks’ (notice), but we understand, if you find another job, go,” she said.

After the doors close, Oblack said she and her husband will enjoy not having to go anywhere in the morning for a while, but “going to visit family is going to be the highest priority we have,” she said.

“Both the people who live in this county and the people we’ve had to work with here have been nothing but wonderful,” she said.

“It’s one of the things that made it possible for us to continue to do it, or we would have not been there doing it this long.

“Priceless memories and incredibly supportive people. … I am going to miss it.”

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Suzannah Couch grew up in Brown County, reading the Brown County Democrat. A 2013 Franklin College graduate, she covers business, cops/courts, education and arts/entertainment.