Bellevue restaurant Antonios’ closes amid pandemic, auctions everything


BELLEVUE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Bellevue staple has closed its doors for good, but you can still get a piece of memorabilia. Tuesday would have marked the 27th anniversary for Antonios’ serving the community.

Antonios Tantaris said it was a bittersweet day as he said goodbye to the place he has spent nearly every day for the last quarter of a century whipping up classic scratch-made Italian dishes.

When the pandemic hit, Tantaris tried to adapt by selling carry out but he said it just didn’t work out for a dine-in restaurant like his.

“For 4 weeks it was really hard because it was costing me more money than the money we were generating and actually I got a little bit scared watching my retirement depleting on a daily basis so April 18th I decided it’s time to shut it down. As a small owner, it’s very hard, very hard,” Tantaris explained with tears in his eyes.

Everything inside the restaurant is now up for auction through Sims Commercial Realtors & Auctioneers. During the pandemic, the company has been receiving a number of calls from business owners inquiring about their services.

“We are receiving more calls than usual with business owners beginning to ask the question, ‘if I close what services do you provide? If I close and I need to liquidate my assets what does that look like, how does that work?'” explained Auctioneer and Director of Marketing Stephen Aleman who specializes in online auctions.

While large groups can’t gather, online is the only way auctions can be held during the current environment.

“It’s much easier to get somebody to sit down on their laptop or more and more on their smartphone and do bidding that way,” he said.

Right now you can log online and see everything being auctioned for Antonios’.

“Chairs, dining room tables, all of the art and decor that made the ambiance of the restaurant that people came to know and love,” Aleman went on to explain.

One of Tantaris’ most loved items is also up for sale.

“I have a pasta machine that I was making a lot of pasta with that I was attached to, you know. I hate to let it go, you know, but it’s going to have to go like everything else,” he said sadly.

He said while he was planning to retire, the pandemic ultimately closed his doors.

“Who would have thought a virus would cause so much, all these hard times for everybody?” he questioned.

Aleman told News 2 that taking calls from shattered businesses like his is also challenging for him.

“I think, unfortunately, a lot of businesses particularly small businesses that operate on a very tight margin they might be running out of options if things don’t turn around soon and we hope that they do,” he said.

While it may seem like a difficult time for people to buy, bidders are still showing about the same amount of interest as they did before the pandemic he said. 

“There is no shortage of optimism in America. There is no shortage of optimism in Nashville, so there is always going to be a new group of people who want to start a business and obviously want to improve their lives and the lives of their families,” said Aleman.

As with all of their online auctions, Sims will still be holding an open house at Antonios’.

“Usually about 5-10 percent of the total of actual bidders actually come to look at the items in person. We will find out tomorrow rather those numbers hold constant or rather there are fewer people or potentially more people because there’s a lot of people to fill some time,” he said.

The open house will be held from 9 until 12 Wednesday at Antonios’ and it is open to the public. Bidding will close online Thursday morning.

For more information, click here.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.


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