Knoxville restaurant serves veterans free gourmet meals

Knoxville restaurant serves veterans free gourmet meals

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By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Veterans Day is this Friday, but some local businesses have been rolling out the red carpet for our vets and active military members already this week.

Wednesday night looked like a normal night at West Knoxville's Echo Bistro & Wine Bar, with a packed house, fabulous food and good conversation. The difference was that at least one person at every table was a veteran or active service member.

"We decided last year to do it and we had a huge success," said chef and owner Seth Simmerman.

He was a submarine cook in the 1960s. His welcome home during the Vietnam War was less than stellar.

"So I always said that if I could do something for some of the veterans, we were going do it," he said.

He's keeping that promise in a big way, filling his restaurant two nights in a row with past and present military members and serving them a five course gourmet meal, including filet mignon. all for free.

"To see these guys and meet them and talk, they all have stories," Simmerman said.

Like Tony Newton, a retired Army colonel. He was so touched by Simmerman's generosity, he gave him a token of his gratitude.

"As the commander of a brigade I commanded many years ago, we had coins made and we gave them out to soldiers who did particularly good things. I just gave one to Seth as a remembrance of him doing that for us tonight," Newton explained.

"We're honored to be able to do it," Simmerman said.

He had so many requests for reservations, he couldn't accommodate them all this week. He's going to hold another event in June.

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