Exclusive: Brian Kelley Mourned FGL House, Is Excited About New Burger Joint with Jason Aldean

Out with the old and in with the new? Situations seem to be working out that way for Brian Kelley, whose previous duo, Florida Georgia Line, closed their Nashville bar and restaurant FGL House this month. Recently, Kelley teamed up with Jason Aldean, MLB pitcher Tom Glavine, and their wives to open Papa Surf Burger Bar in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.

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But Kelley is mourning FGL House.

“It’s a sad day to see FGL close,” Kelley told American Songwriter. “We knew it was coming, but we didn’t know when. Tyler (Hubbard) and I agree that we were looking forward to keeping that part of our legacy alive forever. But, we didn’t really have any say in it.”

Kelley explained that most of the artist restaurants on Nashville’s famed Lower Broadway are licensing deals, and the terms must be renewed. When it was time to renew FGL House, their business partners chose to go another direction – to Lainey Wilson. 

“I’m excited for Lainey,” Kelley said. “She’s got a great space for her, her fans, and her family to make some amazing memories. I’m happy we’re passing it on to a great artist and a great human. I look forward to checking it out.”

Brian Kelley introduces Papa Surf Burger Bar

However, the Kelleys worked hard to make Papa Surf Burger Bar a place of which they’re proud. The singer and his wife, Britteny, love architecture, real estate, and anything with a story. When they found an old house across the road from the beach, they bought it and renovated it. Kelley had the name Papa Surf, which he knew he wanted to use for something. The timing was right.” 

“I knew we were going to do a little restaurant, something craft there,” he said. “Then it was like, ‘Well, we love burgers and there’s a need for burgers.’ And so it just kind of worked out perfectly.”

Then, they put the plans in place, started working on the design, and hired their favorite designer from Charleston, South Carolina. At that point, they reached out to the other couples and asked if they’d like to partner with them. 

The friends made sure to save the trees in the backyard, although Kelley admits it would have been easier to tear everything down and let someone build condos on the land. They wanted to be intentional.

“We like doing things differently,” he said. “And it has a story. Let’s preserve it.”

“We Like Being Memory Makers”

The Kelleys had to jack up the building and install a new foundation under it. Then they fixed the flooring, put on a new roof, and installed a new HVAC system. 

“Everything’s new in it, but it’s a lot cooler than a four or five-story condo would’ve been,” he said. “It’s a cool burger spot where locals and tourists can go and make memories.”

Some of Brian Kelley’s fondest memories are of spending summers in Panama Beach, Florida, with his friends and family, getting sunburnt near the surf, and then going out to dinner and hearing good music. 

He promised the —and the food—is “fire.” Kelley eats there several times a week and explains that their unique menu offers burgers with toppings ranging from pimento cheese and jam to crispy onions and jalapenos. 

“It is just set up for good times,” he said. “I think that’s important. We like being memory makers and memory concierges.”

He hopes someday to turn Papa Surf Burger Bar into a chain, setting up shop in coastal communities. But for now, he’s happy they were able to rejuvenate their quirky little house, which was a popular café years ago, and its patio bar that’s wrapped around magnolia trees. 

“I just love a good project,” he said.

Photo Credit: Ben Christensen / Big Machine Records

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