South On Main to Be Sold, Chef Headed to Nashville

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South on Main Chef Matt Bell is selling the popular Little Rock restaurant and moving to Nashville, Tennessee, to serve as executive chef of the Gray & Dudley restaurant.

Gray & Dudley is owned by 21c Museum Hotels, a Louisville-based boutique hotel, contemporary art museum and restaurant group. The restaurant is in the 21c Museum Hotel Nashville at 221 Second Ave. N.

Bell and his wife, Amy, own South on Main (the restaurant/venue operations, not the physical building), which will continue service under new ownership, according to a news release. Also, the Oxford American Concert Series will continue as scheduled.

The magazine said in a statement that the new owners would take over the restaurant after the first week of February.

In addition, its statement reads, “The OA is grateful for the Bells’ seven years of service helping create and support a new destination and community for the arts in Little Rock, and we wish them the very best as they embark on their new chapter.”

OA Executive Director Ryan Harris said in the statement, “Matt and Amy have been a tireless team in helping make South on Main a special destination for exceptional culinary and concert experiences. We’re grateful for their investment in the Central Arkansas community and their partnership with the Oxford American. They will be missed.”

Asked Friday morning about the new ownership and his new gig, Bell declined to comment.

He said in the release, “Nashville offers one of the most exciting culinary communities in the country and 21c offers one of the most hospitable travel experiences, so it’s the perfect match. I am looking forward to being a part of the 21c family here in Music City and to extending our hospitality beyond the hotel and into the local community.”

He and his wife also issued a statement on South on Main’s Facebook page. See it here

Melanie Tapp, senior director of 21c Food and Beverage, said in the release, “Matt’s skill and experience in the kitchen are matched by his love of community and compassion for others, which makes him a perfect addition to the 21c Nashville team. We can’t wait for locals and travelers alike to visit him at Gray & Dudley.”

Bell moved to the South in 2005 from his home state of Montana. He studied at the Texas Culinary Academy in Austin, Texas, and later moved to North Little Rock, where he began his career serving upscale southern fare for five years at Ashley’s at the Capital Hotel. 

Bell opened South on Main in 2013.