Lost Tavern to Open at 20 Market Square

The Lost Tavern will open within the next few weeks at 20 Market Square. A West family business, it will replace Uncorked which has been closed recently. The new bar will offer classic cocktails, bourbon and wine with a noir theme. Dark wood floors, “dark, romantic rooms of black and white and a splash of red,” along with comfortable booths will be included according to Scott West. You might find lipstick on a glass (not yours and not real :-)), mysterious messages on cocktail napkins and other fun, mysterious noiresque features.

There will be an element of “true crime,” with oversized posters of faux magazine covers referencing sensational and mysterious crimes from Knoxville’s history in the 1950s and older. They’re considering staining the wine bar scarlet, looking for a dark and romantic atmosphere.

“Imagine a dark tavern with pools of warm light with a true crime feel. It’s a perfect complement to our other concepts and cultural focuses.” He noted the wide range of themes from Tommy Trent’s Sports Bar, to Scruffy City Hall, Preservation Pub and Bernadette’s Crystal Ballroom. This will add a very different element.

To lead the effort and to oversee the food and beverage program at all their businesses, the Wests have brought in Steven Manolopoulos. From Montreal, Steven has owned and operated multiple restaurants. His father was also in the business. Steven worked for Buca Di Beppo, opening restaurants for them.

He arrived in Knoxville in 2007 and opened Vinnie and Me in Turkey Creek, closing it when the economy tanked. He opened Willies at Choto Marina and later sold it. He worked at Don Pablo’s in Covington, Kentucky before joining U.S. Foods helping restaurants improve their businesses. He designed the kitchen and interior for Morelli’s in west Knoxville and helped open the restaurant.

Uncorked, 20 Market Square, Knoxville, June 2018

More recently he stepped away from the industry, waiting to see if the right opportunity presented itself. Amanda Lebo introduced him to Scott West and the two agreed to work together. Steven says success in a bar or restaurant is all about the training. “If you can do the training,” everything becomes more flexible. He said he doesn’t want to be tied to the kitchen or the front of the house exclusively and well-trained employees will allow him to flow from one to the other.

Scott said that as they started talking, he considered what was missing from the group of businesses, which will soon include fourteen levels of bars and restaurants. He said they have a lot of people good at their part of the operation, but needed someone who understood the entire structure and could direct them all to keep them working together well. They will also soon increase their focus on events and Steven has a background there that will help them with those efforts.

The two say that the Lost Tavern will have a retro look and music to match. They will look to play pre-rock crooners and big band jazz and may include live jazz or blues some nights. Workers will wear uniforms to match the theme.

Steven is also interested in the food angle and hopes to make an impact on Market Square by offering “some new flavors in food and drink.” He talked about offering octopus at a previous restaurant and indicated the food will not be an after-thought. He says it will be tavern food, but with a unique twist.

The business should open within the next four weeks. A website is coming soon at TheLostTavern.com.

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