CLEVELAND — There's a new place for country fans to call home in downtown Cleveland -- and it comes courtesy of country star Chase Rice.
Welcome to the Farm -- a new bar in the Flats -- officially opens Friday.
It's done in partnership between Rice and Forward Hospitality Group, which operates FWD Night + Day Club, Good Night John Boy and multiple other concepts. Welcome to the Farm is their first country-themed bar, which also focuses on bringing live music and entertainment.
This is another accomplishment that Rice can add to his extensive resume over the years. The singer is an accomplished football player, playing college ball at University of North Carolina. He also worked in a NASCAR pit crew, was runner-up in the reality TV show Survivor, all on top of being one of the biggest names in country music with hits like Drinking beer. Talking God. Amen and Eyes on You.
For Rice, owning a bar is a dream he didn't know he had.
"It's a dream come true, but not really because I never thought I'd have a bar," he laughed.
It's a dream that became a reality during the pandemic. Due to COVID restrictions, Rice was playing a parking lot show outside of Columbus when he met Michael Schwartz, CEO of Forward Hospitality Group.
"We met and sat down to have drinks in his trailer. Said, 'Hey, let's do something together.' He was up for it because he wasn't touring," Schwartz said.
"Guys coming together to come up with a concept. Coming up with a dream and making it come true," Rice recalls. "They made it come through fast."
The concept of Welcome to the Farm is, well, based on Rice's own farm in Tennessee. Everything from cups with his dog's face on it, to pictures of his bison -- one wall is even a copy of the outside of his home.
But the best tribute for Rice is a neon Dairy Queen sign honoring his late father, Daniel. Above, it reads: "D.L. Larger than life"
"D.L. Danny Leon. Leon was my dad's middle name," Rice said. "'Larger than life' is on his tombstone. Dairy Queen is where he'd take us every day after baseball games as a kid.'
His Ohio connection is through his father. He grew up outside of Columbus and even played a year of football at Ohio State. Rice was in college when his father passed away suddenly.
"My dad died when I was a 22. I was a senior in college. That was a long time ago, but he'd be proud of this."
As Rice continues to create country hits, he will also be creating opportunity for live music in downtown Cleveland to continue its growth.
"This is a one-of-a-kind place here in Cleveland," Rice said. "To start in Ohio where my dad's from, it's really special."
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Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in an unrelated article on March 3, 2022.