KINGSPORT — Fusion Cuisine just celebrated its first anniversary, but watching the way its owners, staff an customers interact leaves one with the impression the restaurant has been around much longer. Fusion, located at 1704 E. Stone Drive, is clearly already a favorite spot for many locals and counts many “regulars” among the steady stream of customers dining inside, on the patio, or stopping in for a carryout order. The clientele is as eclectic as the menu.
On the restaurant’s website the owners state “we are excited to provide the Appalachian Highlands area with a place that combines many different cultures. Fusion provides a delicious combination of Tex-Mex, Italian, & American cuisines all in one place.”
Owners Jaime and Kathleen Joaquin answered the following questions for the Times News:
How long has your restaurant been in operation?
Our restaurant just celebrated its first anniversary Aug. 4. We are a little over one year old. We opened up during the COVID pandemic with just six employees and have been growing ever since.
What do you consider the specialties at your restaurant and why?
We feel that since we make everything fresh, on site, that makes everything special. We also pride ourselves on our extensive selection of craft cocktails.
What is your culinary education and how did you learn to do what you do in the kitchen?
Jaime has always had a passion for the food and beverage industry. He has had no formal training but has been in the business for over 38 years. He has owned restaurants and a catering venue in San Antonio, Texas, for 35 years before moving here to Kingsport three years ago.
Explain in as much detail as possible why your restaurant is appealing to customers and how you maintain that ambiance.
Before we are in the restaurant business, we are in the people business. It is our relationship with our customers that sets us apart. We pride ourselves on not only the quality of our food but also the presentation of it and our service. We try to treat everyone with the utmost respect. Also, we were looking for a particular ambiance. We helped achieve this by having our walls decorated with local artists’ work, which are available for purchase. We try to support local as much as we can. We feel that if we take care of the community, they will take care of us. Our bar is another source of pride. We wanted it to be a place where people of all walks of life can sit down and interact with each other. We see lots of people make new friends simply by interacting at our bar. We love to see everyone talking and engaging in conversations with each other. That was our vision for Fusion.
Do you share recipes with your diners? If so, please share your favorite recipe.
One of our most popular dishes is our Pollo Carciofo. It is simply sautéed chicken breast with sliced mushrooms, chopped garlic, artichokes, sundried tomatoes, fresh basil and finished with deglazing the pan with white wine and top with lemon butter sauce. We serve it on top of angel hair pasta.
How do you think your restaurant differs from other restaurants in the Tri-Cities region?
We think we stand apart from other restaurants because of our personal touch. One of the owners usually is there making sure everyone has a pleasant dining experience. We also have a wide variety on our menu, which is one reason we are named Fusion. We have Tex-Mex, Italian and American cuisine. Each plate has a unique fusion of flavors as well. We also have recently acquired the BANQ building downtown where we can cater to many different needs. We have had requests for large parties. We now can accommodate between 75-150 people in the Grand Hall at BANQ. We also have an executive room available for corporate meetings or smaller groups looking for a private room or venue. Finally, we have our gorgeous rooftop which can accommodate up to 99 people. We are excited to make BANQ an extension of our restaurant.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of your location?
We are fortunate because our location allows a lot of people to pass by our place on a daily basis. Sadly, it does lead to a lot of traffic in and around the area. We do have parking in the back of our building, which many are unaware. We have a large variety of restaurants nearby, and we are accessible by two different traffic lights on Stone Drive. We are beginning to outgrow our space however.
How often do you change the menu at the restaurant and why?
Since we are so new and everything on the menu seems to be quite popular, we have not changed our menu yet. We hope to add daily specials soon.
What’s your favorite cookbook?
No one cookbook is a favorite. We have been primarily influenced by cooking shows, family recipes and eating in a variety of restaurants across the country.