It’s a cornerstone of the Old City - the former Patrick Sullivan's building.
“Probably one of the most iconic buildings in the city for sure,” says Chef Tim Love.
And, it’s a familiar haunt to Love.
“It was a pretty ratty old bar, but it seemed to never 'die.' You talk to anybody it was Patrick Sullivan’s since 1840," he said.
Love was born and raised in Texas. After his parents divorced, his father moved to Cookeville, and Love started spending summers there. He came to Knoxville to attend the University of Tennessee.
“I had an unbelievable time at University of Tennessee and graduated with a double degree in Finance and Marketing," he said.
Love discovered the restaurant business while paying for college.
“Once I started cooking on the line, I fell in love with it,” remembers Love. “About six months into that job, I decided that’s what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.”
So, he learned all things culinary.
“This is my 10th restaurant - Lonesome Dove Knoxville. And, it’s the third Lonesome Dove," he said.
A Knoxville restaurant wasn’t originally part of his plan, but Knoxville businessman and Tennessee Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Randy Boyd was very convincing.
“He said we’re not leaving here until you say yes," Love recalled.
Love couldn’t say no.
“I love the building," he said.
He got to work completely transforming his old college stomping ground, exposing the original brick, repairing the floors, even moving the bar.
“I love having the ability to have two or three different experiences when you go to the same restaurant," he said.
In addition to the bar, Lonesome Dove offers a unique chef’s table to fully restored private dining rooms. There’s even a Coach Phillip Fulmer room and wine cellar.
“Our food is meant for wine," Love said.
Each dish is a masterpiece and an adventure.
“It’s a leap of faith. You’re coming into a menu that most people don’t know half the ingredients on the menu," he said.
In addition to elk, there’s pheasant meatballs, even rattle snake sausage.
“We go through probably 15,000 pounds of sausage a year," he said.
Love continues to cook up success.
“It’s been overwhelming positive which is really awesome," he said.
THANKSGIVING TURKEYS: Buy one, donate one
Chef Tim Love is frying up turkeys for Thanksgiving. For every turkey he sells, he’ll donate one on behalf of the customer. Lonesome Dove is taking orders now. You can call the restaurant at 865.999.5251.
BACKDOUGH: Sweet and savory donuts
“I like to give people opportunities to taste flavors in different situations,” says Love about the Back Dough. “I wanted to tap into a different crowd and different opportunity and create something that’s just fun.”
The donuts are $4 and come in a variety of creations.
“We have savory donuts … anything from a chicken wing donut which has a blue cheese fondu filling and hot sauce glaze to a grilled pheasant and crispy duck skin with pickled celery on top," he said. "Then we also have sweet donuts like grilled lemon curd with vanilla glaze, blueberries and mint.”
There’s no website for the Back Dough or a phone number.
“When the neon's on, that’s when we’re open and we have donuts and we make them all to order. We just sell donuts from 11 p.m. until we run out on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights," Love said.
He recently extended the hours, serving up donuts starting at 8 a.m. Saturday mornings to 1 p.m.
“We have people showing up in their PJs to get donuts and go straight home," he said.
Love also has another concept on the back porch of Lonesome Dove. It’s called the Love Shack. The burger joint is open game weekends starting at 2 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
(© 2016 WBIR)