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Staff photo by Barry Courter / Easy Bistro patrons can site at one of two bars, choosing to either watch their drink or their meal being prepared.

Even in the middle of a pandemic, the vibe inside and outside of the newly relocated and opened Easy Bistro screams urban cool. As diners on a recent Friday sampled the fare from the kitchen, and the cherry-wood fed oven, people outside walked up and down Chestnut and 8th streets while a young teen popped wheelies on his bicycle.

Located for almost 15 years near the Tennessee Aquarium, chef and co-owner Erik Niel and wife and co-owner Amanda Niel chose to downsize with what he calls a "smaller, very efficient space" that he believes will work well in a COVID-19 world and beyond.

Easy Bistro's new location at 801 Chestnut St. is the corner space that was formerly occupied by Italian eatery Alimentari, which plans to relocate inside the nearby Westin hotel.

"It was designed for a non-COVID world with eye toward what will do in the future," Niel said.

The couple also owns Main Street Meats and said takeout and delivery have kept that business open and he plans to continue those there and offer them at Easy Bistro.

"I don't think any restaurant cannot do that and be successful. We have focused on better functionality and online ordering," Niel said.

In addition to the inside dining space, there is a food bar where diners can sit and watch their food being prepared, al fresco seating on 8th Street, and private dining spaces. There is also a fully-stocked bar featuring rotating seasonal cocktails, wine, and beers alongside the restaurant's extensive bourbon and whiskey list.

Plans are to also offer special event programming, including wine dinners, guest chef dinners, spirits seminars, and cocktail kits to go, which can be paired with a grab-and-go menu to take home a meal and cocktails to enjoy at home.

The menu, which will change as items become available or in season, will continue serving Easy Bistro & Bar menu favorites, alongside additional offerings such as expanded fresh seafood options and wood-burning oven dishes. Among the newer items will be Wagyu Beef Coulotte; Yellowfin Tuna Crudo; House Made Tagliolini with Bottarga, Hearth Roasted Sungolds, Red Chili Flake, Parsley, & Lemon; as well as six different varieties of east, west, & gulf coast Oysters.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

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Staff photo by Barry Courter / The new Easy Bistro offers dining inside and outside, as well as a private space for as many as 30 people.
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