Twenty years ago, Erik Niel toured a vacant building in Chattanooga, Tenn. owned by his father, a commercial real estate investor and property manager. Niel and his dad had a certain affinity for the sprawling historic space, which nearly a century ago housed one of the world’s first
Years later, after graduating from both the University of Texas and culinary school, Niel returned to find that although most of the building had been occupied, the former bottling plant wing was still available. He felt the space had something special and decided to move to Chattanooga and open a restaurant called Easy Bistro.
The history of
The first Chattanooga bottling facility was located at 17 Market Street and then moved into the center of downtown on Broad Street before moving to its current facility in the 1970s. To this day, the city credits much of its prosperity to
Knowing the city's history with
The building’s exterior featured beautiful cast iron lamps. Inside, high ceilings and tile floors added touches of grandeur. Niel’s wife, Amanda, a designer, changed as little as possible about the interior. They did, however, paint the lightly colored walls and white ceiling black to create a cozier, more intimate feel. For the rest of the design features they added, they were cognizant of making sure they stayed true to the time period when
Niel's cuisine throws back to the old world French — with bistro and brasserie classics — think steak frites, mussels and oysters. Although the menu has morphed over the years, Niel keeps those classic dishes on the menu for his regulars and those who just want simple, good food.
“It's fun to feel the history of the place," say Niel. “We often have people popping by who are descendants of those who worked at the original plant. They share great stories and just solidify how much of an impact
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