Lonesome Dove Flies

Chef Tim Love takes Texas restaurant empire outside Lone Star State

Chef Tim Love takes Texas restaurant empire outside Lone Star State

Lonesome Dove Western Bistro
Lonesome Dove and Love Shack are heading to Tennessee.    The Lonesome Dove Western Bistro/Facebook

Chef Tim Love isn’t found in one place for very long. In a given week, business has him shuffling to and from Fort Worth, Austin, and West Hollywood. And now you can add Knoxville to the list.

In late spring 2016, Love has a pair of restaurants — yes, two — opening in his old college stomping grounds. His Lonesome Dove Western Bistro and Love Shack concepts will have new locations in Knoxville's Old City neighborhood.

Approached by economic developers, Love first declined the offer to expand his ever-growing empire to Tennessee. “I said, ‘I’m too busy, no way,’ but I flew out for a football game, and soon we struck a deal. The neighborhood is on the edge of a big resurgence, and you can walk everywhere there. Really, it’s an exciting place to be.”

Love gushes about the 200-year-old building that his third Lonesome Dove will soon call home. He likens its feel unto the Fort Worth flagship Lonesome Dove, with lots of nooks and crannies. The main restaurant space on the ground floor will seat about 85, and an upper floor will accommodate another 100. Four working fireplaces are among its features, but he’s working to add modern touches, as well, such as those seen in his Austin location.

Love Shack will occupy an adjoining building with a sizable patio. Given its proximity to Lonesome Dove, excess meat — including prime beef steak and brisket — from the steakhouse will provide product for Shack’s burgers.

Besides flying back and forth to Knoxville, Love spends ample time in Austin, where Lonesome Dove opened last June. “The city’s so energetic, the food scene is so great, it’s crazy. I love being a little piece of the puzzle. I’m having a lot of fun with my poutine program — it’s adventurous and so fun to work on.”

Meanwhile, trips to West Hollywood will begin in spring, as that’s when the fourth season of CNBC Prime’s Restaurant Startup filming starts. The show stars Love, TV food personality Joe Bastianich, and restaurateur-consultant Elizabeth Blau. The trio listens to restaurant concept pitches from entrepreneurs who have culinary concept ideas and need financing.

“Winners have been impressively successful,” he says, adding that he’s particularly proud of the Season 1 team who opened Kraken Congee in Seattle’s Pioneer Square, thanks to his investment. He’d like to see the concept expand to other cities.

Another partnership keeping him busy is that with Austin-based C3 Presents. Love partners with C3 on the Austin Food + Wine Festival, Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, Chicago Food + Wine Festival, and Music City Wine + Food Festival. He handles the food and beverage for several C3 events around the world, including the upcoming new Auckland City Limits Music Festival.

Finally, Love just became an investor in two more Austin companies: High Brew Coffee and Bona Dea, a gluten-free baking goods company. 

To ring in the new year, Lonesome Dove Austin will host a four-course dinner with Champagne toast for $95.