After the pandemic halted business earlier this year, Chef Christopher Newton and his family opened EPIC Eatery in mid-August. The reservation-only restaurant is located inside the EPIC Event Centre in Gallatin. JOSH CROSS

EPIC Event Centre was on track to have a record-breaking year for sales until the pandemic changed everything in mid-March.

Around 80 events that had been booked to take place this year have either been rescheduled to 2021 or cancelled altogether, according to Chef Christopher Newton who opened the Gallatin business with his wife Brenda in 2011.

“We were gearing up for the year and hiring people but then everything just stopped,” Christopher Newton recalled. “Everybody wants their parents and grandparents at their wedding. That’s a very important part, but if they can’t attend, they’ll put it off.”

Located at 392 West Main St., the event center features 30,000 square feet of indoor space and a 15,000 square foot courtyard that are available to rent for weddings, business functions and other large or small gatherings. It was named the Rural-owned Small Business of the Year in 2018 by the Tennessee District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

As a result of the cancelled or postponed events, everyone who worked for the business – seven full-time employees and around 20 part-time workers – was laid off.

During a family business meeting with their three sons this summer, the Newtons knew they had to do something. Four weeks later in mid-August, EPIC Eatery opened inside a portion of the event space that had previously been used to host small weddings.

“We created a place that our family would want to go to get a great steak and seafood,” Newton said about the restaurant. “We took a steak house out of Nashville and we brought it here to Gallatin with Gallatin prices.”

All of the steaks are aged in-house and cut by hand the same day they’re ordered. The menu also includes a variety of appetizers, salads, brunch and fresh seafood offerings as well as a classic Black Angus burger. Multiple dessert options as well as a full bar are also available.

While the reservation-only restaurant can accommodate up to nearly 200 customers at once, the Newtons have intentionally limited seating to just 100 in order to help with social distancing.

“To be able to launch a successful restaurant in such a short period of time, you don’t see that very often especially during a pandemic,” said Charles Alexander, director of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center at Volunteer State Community College. “They have been very busy and have done an excellent job with it.”

In October, the Newtons were able to recoup 60 percent of what their sales had been during the previous year with the help of EPIC Eatery.

The family says the restaurant has become a popular place for older couples in particular who are still very selective about where they want to go out to eat at during the pandemic.

“Our clientele…. are a lot of the people who are in danger right now,” Newton said. “A lot of couples won’t go anywhere else but here because they don’t have to wait in line, they don’t have to see anybody and of course we follow every (health safety) guideline there is to follow.”

EPIC Eatery is currently open Thursday through Saturday from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m. and on Sundays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Additional days and hours will be added as business increases.

For more information about EPIC Eatery or to make a reservation, visit www.epiceventcentre.com/epiceaterytn or call (615) 452-1912.