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Scott Atkinson, Scott Sears and Flyte featured in Inside Vandy

Posted Oct 26th 2012

Flyte: the tale of two Vanderbilt alums
Stacey Oswald | Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 9:58 pm

If bitter about missing the Vanderbilt Farm to Fork Dinner, there is a local solution. Flyte, a popular restaurant located next to Frugal’s on Division Street, offers a legitimate “farm-to-table experience.” It also happens to be co-owned by two Vanderbilt graduates, Scott Sears and Scott Atkinson.

Neither Sears nor Atkinson planned on getting involved in the restaurant business while studying at Vanderbilt. Sears double majored in math and computer science and minored in piano performance at Blair, while Atkinson double majored in economics and political science and minored in business.

Upon graduation, they played in a band called Room 101 for four years, making very little money in the process. To make up for their lack of income, they waited tables and bartended at Rio Bravo, a Mexican restaurant and Vanderbilt hotspot that once existed on West End in Stoney River’s current location. The restaurant had a fantastic environment, and the two Scotts often reminisced in the time they spent there.

After their band failed, Atkinson moved to Chicago to get his M.B.A. and go into the finance industry. Sears went into technology and founded one of the first IP firms in Nashville. But soon, they found themselves bored with their work and aggravated by the monotony of the business world.

“We kept talking and talking about how we wanted to create an environment just like that one (at Rio Bravo) and provide jobs for great people in a restaurant of our own,” Sears says. “One day I just picked up the phone, called Scott (Atkinson), and said ‘Man, I just can’t work for anyone else.’”

In 2002, Atkinson started to work on the business plan for the restaurant, and by the time it was done, both men felt ready to change their lives and begin this endeavor together.

Flyte officially opened in October of 2006, and since then, the restaurant has truly taken off, evolving from a fairly ordinary organic restaurant to a world dining experience with a constantly changing menu and an expansive, unique wine list.

Flyte works directly with sustainable farmers in Tennessee located within a 90-mile radius of the restaurant. On the menu, Flyte lists all of the farms that provide ingredients for the dishes, and everything is fresh and free from preservatives, something the owners truly value.

Flyte is also notably chef-driven. The menu is designed entirely by Chef Matt Lackey, and his passion for his home state of Tennessee means that he is committed to supporting local farms. He even has a farm of his own in Gallatin, which provides many of the fresh vegetables he uses in his unique dishes.

Scott Atkinson and Scott Sears took a complete risk when they opened Flyte. But their courage, which was aided by their time here at Vanderbilt, has brought them great success.

So whether you’re looking for a farm-to-table experience or hope for what your future holds, look no further than Atkinson and Sears’ Flyte.

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