Interiorssneak peeks

Little Octopus, a Vibrant Restaurant in Nashville, TN

by Erin Austen Abbott

There’s an area in Nashville, TN where the downtown and music row meet, right in the heart of the city called The Gulch. It’s not far from the famed Ryman Theatre or the The Mercy Lounge, music venues known for the acts that play there but also famous in their own way. In The Gulch there’s a restaurant called Little Octopus — and it’s taking the city in a different direction. When you walk in, you are immediately transported. It’s got glamour and shine, which Nashville is known for, but the restaurant also has an elevated design, which is helping to put the city on a new map. From the pink booths and marble to the softness of the wood and gold mirrors, its aesthetic is taking Nashville in a new direction of design.

After 17 successful years in the advertising, film production and music licensing world, Sarah Gavigan made the shift many dream of: to become a chef. Originally from Nashville, Sarah moved back home from Los Angeles in 2010. Desperately missing the Japanese food culture of LA, in 2012 she took the plunge and taught herself how to make ramen and started doing pop-up events to offer her dishes. Lines continued to form around the block for each and every one. It was in those long lines that Sarah knew what she needed to do, and that she had made the right choice in adding “chef” to her life’s list of titles. In 2015 the POP Nashville Hospitality Group was formed and POP Nashville was born, a pop-up restaurant and space for culinary innovation. Sarah opened Otaku Ramen in 2016, and in 2017 Little Octopus followed with a concept of fresh, clean, vibrant, vegetable-forward food.

Working with Design, Bitches, a design duo out of Los Angeles, Sarah was able to create a warm and inviting space that is also stunning to look at. “I wanted a space that was bright and vibrant during the day and glowed like magic hour at night — comfortable sexiness. What the girls [of Design, Bitches] gave me was even more an interpretation of my vision than I anticipated. The colors and tone remind us every day of the glow of a Venice Beach sunset where we lived for over 15 years. That vibe plays into the ethos of the menu; fresh, clean, vibrant,” Sarah shares.

Look for Sarah’s first cookbook later this year, published by Penguin Random House. I visited Little Octopus shortly after they opened last year and was taken aback by not only how delicious the the food is, but also the overall design. It’s one of the warmest restaurants I’ve ever been to. From the moment you enter, you feel cozy and comfortable. I hope you enjoy this tour of Little Octopus as much as I did! —Erin

Photography by Emily B. Hall / @emilydorio 

Image above: The bar at Little Octopus is lined with a gold mirror that takes on the same shape as the lines of the bar. The low-profile seats made of a warm wood also give the bar area a minimalist feel.

Little Octopus on Design*Sponge
The mirror adds depth to the otherwise smaller space. A second area of bar seating in the window maximizes space.
Little Octopus on Design*Sponge
Two pink booths greet you as soon as you walk in the door. These booths work double duty to form a wall, giving separation to the bar patrons and the seated guests.
Little Octopus on Design*Sponge
Small, pink marble cocktail tables work for drinks and small plates in the bar area.
Little Octopus on Design*Sponge
A longer look from the front of the restaurant to the back.
Little Octopus on Design*Sponge
You enter Little Octopus right into the bar area, and you are instantly left with a calming feeling due to the soft glow of gold and pink hues.
Little Octopus on Design*Sponge
A bit of greenery hangs in the corners.
Little Octopus on Design*Sponge
A large group table sits just past the bar, giving it a cozy, family-dinner vibe.
Little Octopus on Design*Sponge
A not-so-little octopus on the back wall of the restaurant.
Little Octopus on Design*Sponge
Another look at the group table.
Little Octopus on Design*Sponge
Tall windows create a light-filled space.
Little Octopus on Design*Sponge
Cozy banquette seating lines the walls under the skylights.
Little Octopus on Design*Sponge
Afternoon shadows create an artistic look alongside the wood and marble in the entryway.

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