Rhapsody “Lighting a Fire in Nashville”


 article by Rhapsody Magazine written by Hunter R. Slaton

Max Rhapsody Cover

The business trajectory of Nashville’s hospitality-empire-building Goldberg brothers, Max and Benjamin, “really represents where we were at personally in our lives, and what we were into at that particular time,” Max tells Rhapsody. “At 24 years old, a burger-and-beer joint on lower Broadway sounded awesome. As we got older, it was a pre-Prohibition-style cocktail bar.” 

Now in their 30s, the brothers have recently opened Pinewood Social, a 13,500-square-foot “third space” environment that remixes the best parts of coffee shops, libraries, parks, clubs, bars and restaurants. (Also opening this summer is a 10,000-square-foot outdoor space,which will add shuffleboard, bocce ball, a swimming pool and even a 1971 Airstream trailer, which is being retrofitted to serve as the bar.) It’s meant to be a place that is comfortable for everyone who walks in the door, explains Max, “from our grandmother to my friends.”

One way the brothers achieve that is by shooting for a style with no expiration date. “We both have always been more attracted to doing things that are a bit timeless, which we think can be there forever,”Max says. “We’re kind of obsessed with the 1920s, ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, which was a really beautiful time period and very artistic, creative and thoughtful.”

This obsession is on display not only at the brothers’ businesses, but at their homes as well—“to our significant others’ chagrin,” Max admits. For his part, Max collects gold Dunhill lighters and has “a pretty substantial pipe collection.” His father owned a Dunhill when Max was growing up, and, Max says, “I just saw him with it and thought it was cool.” 

The majority of Max’s 15 or so lighters are handheld, while a couple are desktop versions; most date from the 1920s through the ’80s. Max finds them at old tobacco stores and is also “definitely guilty of going on eBay,” he says. “I gamble when I find one I think will be beautiful.” One lighter that he purchased for $150 he later discovered was worth around $2,500.

Yet the collection is not about the money (nor is Max a cigarette smoker). Rather, “I think these lighters are almost just these really beautiful pieces of artwork,” he says. “They have different textures and are in very different styles. The ones I have are either gold-plated or solid gold. Plus, it’s a subtle luxury. Most people don’t know what they are.”

Max’s collection of between 30 and 40 pipes has an even wider provenance. He has a 1940s Turkish lattice hand-carved block Meerschaum smoking pipe with amber Bakelite stem—as Max rattles off precisely—that a friend brought him back from a trip. Another, a foot-long, hand-carved wood pipe marked “1959 Istanbul,”was in his family’s house when he was a kid. “There’s a chance my grandparents got it while they were traveling,” Max says.

What originally got Max into pipes? “There’s a guy here in town named Scott Hendricks who’s a pretty famous music producer who got me started on it. I was out on his boat with him and he offered me a puff, and I just thought he looked so cool. And I figured, if I’m holding a pipe, it’ll raise my IQ a little bit.” If Max and his brother’s success in Nashville is any indication, he might be onto something.