BRISTOL, Tenn. — A new restaurant is bringing a taste of Memphis to downtown Bristol.

Delta Blues BBQ — at 724 State St. — offers Memphis-style barbecue in a blues-themed space complete with an indoor stage. It opened Tuesday and served its first lunch crowd.

For owner Travis Penn, the restaurant’s opening comes after several years working in the food industry, including operating Delta Blues as a catering business over the last two years.

“Everything we do, we try to take it up a notch,” said Penn, 42, Tuesday.

Penn, who is from Kingsport, said he lived in Memphis for four years after college, and the new space pays homage to the city known as the home of the blues.

“We just want you to feel like you’re on Beale Street in Memphis,” he said, referring to a street in downtown Memphis famous for its live music, neon lights, clubs and restaurants.

Written on a chalkboard over the cash register, Delta Blues BBQ’s menu offers a wide range of choices: pulled pork sandwiches, beef brisket on Texas toast, smoked chicken wings, burgers and ribs, to name a few.

Sides include fries, regular or buffalo, homemade chips, barbecue baked beans, coleslaw and green beans. Premium sides of loaded potato salad, macaroni and cheese and sweet potato fries are also available.

The menu also features salads, appetizers, including pork rinds with jalapeño pimento cheese dip, various tray options and kids’ meals for children 12 and younger.

The restaurant is in the former Zachary’s Steakhouse building. Penn and his team worked to prepare the space over the summer, with renovations including garage doors on the front of the building and a covered deck behind the restaurant where customers can also eat.

There’s also a green space adjacent to the deck, which Penn said he envisions being used for cornhole and other games.

Tuesday was a “soft opening,” and Penn said a grand opening, scheduled for Sept. 28, will feature a free show with Hall of Fame blues artist Mac Arnold. He said more details about the event will be announced on the Delta Blues Facebook page.

The eatery is not the first new business to arrive on State Street this summer — Lost State Distilling and Cascade Draft House also opened in recent weeks.

“The downtown area is just really vibrant right now; there’s a lot going on,” Penn said.

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tdodson@bristolnews.com | 276-645-2567 | Twitter: @Tim_Dodson

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