Your Stories: Echo Bistro

6:05 PM, Jan 16, 2013   |    comments
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  • Echo Bistro
  • It's a little restaurant that pays homage to classic gourmet food.  Echo is run by two special people, it's a cozy bistro tucked away in Bearden, where delicious dinners and top of the line wine are served and enjoyed.

    "We are a local, warm neighborhood joint. We are kind of like a Cheers with really classy food," says owner and executive chef of Echo, Seth Simmerman.

    Seth and his wife, Lisa, like to create a friendly atmosphere.

    "We want you to feel like you are at our home. You are our friends," says Lisa.

    Seth grew up on a farm in Northeast Ohio.

    "We decided we'd sell a lot of the farm animals off and open a restaurant so he did so when he went to work and I was 13, I went to work with him," says Seth.

    Six months after high school graduation he joined the Navy.

    "I knew I wanted to cook so I went to cook and bakers school in the Navy," says Seth.

    But that was not his only role in the military. "I was shipped off to Hawaii, was on the USS Plunger for 4 years, a fast attack sub out of Pearl Harbor," says Seth.

    When he got out, he continued his education. "Went to the Culinary Institute of Hyde Park in 1974. Class of, I think it was 600, and I came in second in the class so I had a few offers to work," says Seth.

    He ended up at a private club in Raleigh, North Carolina. That's where he met Lisa.

    "I interviewed her and hired her for the night receptionist," says Seth.

    They fell in love, but Seth had a job offer at Club LeConte in Knoxville. "The first thing I said was, where is Knoxville? I had no idea where Knoxville was," says Seth.

    He took the job and moved right away. "The bartender would play the Tennessee Waltz on the grand piano at the Capital City Club and I would cry. I missed him," says Lisa.

    She soon followed, just as Seth was making a name for himself within the Club LeConte company.

    "We had over 300 clubs. I guess it was around 58 or 60 clubs at the hay day that I oversaw, so it was basically you were at a different club every week," says Seth.

    Lisa also worked there for a time and they got to do amazing things together.

    "I was catering sales at Club LeConte and this was during the World's Fair so we got to do all the dinners for all the heads of state that were coming in," says Lisa.

    They traveled the world, eventually started a family, it was a good life for 30 years and then Seth was ready to retire.

    "Left Club Corp, thought I would retire. Couldn't do it. Went crazy," says Seth.

    And so Echo was born.

    "I think our food is something that not many places do anymore. It's pretty much the classic old classics that I learned when I was youngster in the kitchens," says Seth.

    It's a place frequented by regulars like Dr. Bill Bass, Johnny Majors, Phillip Fulmer, in fact, the UT coaches have their own table.

    "We nicknamed it the coach's booth," says Seth.

    Echo bistro, a classy neighborhood joint with a loyal following led my two people who love East Tennessee.

    "It's home. East Tennessee is home," says Lisa.

    "30 years ago I had no idea what it was or where it was and you couldn't get me out of here with a team of Clydesdales now," says Seth.

    One of Your Stories. There's no place like this one.

    Echo also gives back to the community. Every year they do a special gourmet dinner for veteran's and it's all free.

     

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