Restaurant veterans Doug Hogrefe and Paul Schramkowski are partnering with Chef Paquette to open Echo at 301 Demonbreun St., hopefully by this March. Hogrefe and Schramkowski own several restaurants around the Southeast, including two Amerigos in Middle Tennessee and Char steakhouse in Jackson, Miss. Hogrefe and Paquette have known each other for quite a while, since his wife was an employee at Chef Deb's Zola restaurant. While Deb was running Zola, she and the restaurant won numerous accolades, including being named a Top 60 Restaurant in the Nation by Gourmet magazine and winning the Nashville Scene's first Iron Fork competition.
In fact, it was at this year's Iron Fork, where Deb was a judge, that Schramkowski turned up the burner on their long-simmering idea of opening a restaurant together. We will gladly take a small slice of the credit for this partnership.
During her interregnum between Zola and Echo, Deb has consulted and cooked for several restaurants in town, including developing the menu at Local Taco in Brentwood, guest chef duty at Mambu and cooking for a few months at Miel. While it's been fun to chase her toque around town, it will be even better to know exactly where to go to enjoy Chef Deb's Mediterranean-fusion menu.
Details of the menu have not been finalized yet, but considering they've just signed the lease, we'll cut them some slack. Whatever the specifics of the cuisine turn out to be, Echo will definitely be a chef-driven restaurant. The 4,000 square foot restaurant will feature an open kitchen with a chef's bar so that diners will be able to watch and interact with Paquette and her kitchen staff while they work. Having taken several cooking classes from Deb as part of University School's Evening Classes program, I can personally attest to how entertaining she is in the kitchen.
Echo will seat about 150 lucky patrons with a private dining room and outdoor patio in addition to the main dining room and full bar. Paquette, Hogrefe and Schramkowski are working with Barry Brechak Architecture and interior designer Laret Casella to create what Schramkowsi calls "the restaurant of her dreams" from the ground up.
I think a lot of Nashville foodies will be dreaming about that restaurant until March. Table for two at the chef's bar for opening night, please.
(Photo courtesy of StyleBlueprint.)