Blue Slip Winery continues to evolve in its home at the Southern Railway Station. In January, 2014, the move from its Old City location was announced and it held its grand opening in November 2014. Owner Linn Atchley-Slocum has continued to explore uses of the facility – she operates the Southern Railway Station as an event venue – and Blue Slip has continued to grow. With a change in state law allowing wineries to serve food, she has decided to do just that. Blue Slip Bistro, a full service restaurant, will open soon, sharing space with the winery and tasting bar.
Chef Carol Scott will head the food portion of the project. Born in Las Vegas and raised by an Italian foodie father, she attended Le Cordon Bleu, and worked with Bobby Flay at Mesa Grill. She moved to Knoxville in 2003 working as executive chef at Edison Park in Farragut and later at the Orangery. After a 2009 stint on Hell’s Kitchen which brought her some notice she moved back to Las Vegas to work with chef Roy Yamaguchi at Roy’s. She returned to Knoxville as general manager at the Crown and Goose for five years before leaving to work as a personal chef with her company Sweet Productions by Carol.
Contacted by Linn and partner Jeff Galyon, Carol is very excited by what she sees as a beginning of a series of culinary projects with the winery. She says the restaurant will have a “relaxed and comfortable atmosphere” and will highlight Blue Slip wines, but other wines and a full bar will be available. In addition to the tasting room and a room just behind it, a large patio will be open in the rear, adjacent to the rail car museum.
The menu, which will evolve, will initially offer salads, small plates, paninis and sandwiches, ranging in price from a modest $7 to $16, with most centered around $10. Carol describes what they are going for with both the menu and ambiance as “classy and laid back.” She hopes to welcome guests in suits and gowns, as well as flip flops. Pets will be welcome on the patio. As the menu grows, she hopes to offer dishes you’re not likely to encounter elsewhere in the city.
The restaurant will open each day at 11:00 AM and close at 10:00 PM, Monday through Thursday, 11:00 PM Friday and Saturday and 9:00 PM on Sunday. The bar will likely stay open later than the restaurant, but both Linn and Carol pointed out that if demand is there they will keep the restaurant open later.
Longer term plans include the construction of a large commercial kitchen capable of catering events in the Southern Railway Station. Once the kitchen is operational, a large, higher-end restaurant is planned for the location.
Linn pointed out that so many guests come to the winery expecting food to pair with their wine and are disappointed when they don’t find it. With last year’s change in state law, she wanted to use the opportunity to meet that need. Her father’s family was very centered around food and this fulfills her dream of building on that legacy.
Initially the restaurant will employ abut twenty people with that number expected to swell to about seventy when the larger restaurant opens (the plan is for it to open within the next year). Available seating inside will include bistro table seating for about 55 in addition to bar seating. The current tasting bar will remain in the front room and an additional full-service bar will be added in the back room. Patrons seated inside may watch the wine process in action and guests will be free to walk through the antique trains parked behind the station. One diner car has been partially restored and is available for rental.
A number of regularly scheduled events keep the station busy, as it is. The third-Thursday Food Truck Park has become very popular and a farmers’ market has been added on Monday afternoons. Live music is periodically hosted in the winery and is a possibility for the new restaurant. The large amount of on-site, free parking makes the spot an exception for downtown. Slip over to FB and give them a “like.”
The Blue Slip Bistro should be open some time next month. It’s another indication that the northern end of downtown is rapidly coming into its own. Blue Slip Bistro is positioned to join Public House as an obvious dining choice for concert goers at the recently opened Mill and Mine. Additionally, the residential growth in the area started by White Lily Flats and extended by the Mews is set to explode with the condo construction on Regas Square, as well as apartment projects planned by David Dewhirst and others planned by Jeffrey Nash.