New Gay Street Brewery and Low Country Restaurant To Open On Krutch Park

Holston Building, Knoxville, July 2016

Holston Building, Knoxville, July 2016

The first floor of the Holston will finally get a long overdue make over as Knoxville’s latest brewery and restaurant featuring low country food. It’s the vision of Lisa and Brien Shirey and they hope to have the new business in place by the end of the year. They will lease the first floor and basement of the Holston with an option to buy. Plans for the majority of the basement space will be deferred until the brewery and restaurant are established.

I met with Lisa to learn how the couple came to this point and place and found theirs to be a long and unpredictable journey. She’s from Maine, while Brien is from Lake Providence, Louisiana. He became a naval pilot and was stationed in Maine while Lisa worked there as a defense contractor. They met and were married (for twenty-eight years, now), ultimately landing in Milton, Florida.

Their son was born in Pensacola, but after Brien’s time in the military ended, he began flying for Delta and they moved to New Orleans out of which he often flew. Soon, they checked out Cincinnati and fell in love with northern Kentucky, settling in Georgetown for twenty years. They bought a 300+ acre farm which included a 750 square foot shack the couple lived in for five years.

Holston Building, Knoxville, July 2016

Holston Building, Knoxville, July 2016

Intending to make the farm pay for itself, the couple raised tobacco (they were in the top five percent of growers in the state) and had 126 sheep at one point. Of her husband, Lisa said, “He’s not afraid of hard work. That’s one of the things I admire the most about him.” For the last ten years the property has been a hunting club, mostly for archers.

The couple moved to Norris in 2011 while Lisa worked for Cardinal Health. They bought a home in 2012 fulfilling a long-term goal to be in Tennessee. They love the climate and it is a good mid-point for their family. Meanwhile, Brien continues to fly 777s for Delta, mostly flying to Asia and Australia, though when we spoke he was on a trip to Paris and Tel Aviv.

Each of them has had a long interest in food. He’s been particularly fond of Louisiana cuisine and she’s maintained Worthy Food, a blog about food (among other things).  She said for twenty years they’ve talked about opening a place with “shrimp and beer.” Lisa says their alter-ego had always been interested in having a loft in the city and they fell in love with Knoxville, which “feels alive with energy and optimism.” She said the driving force behind their desire to open a restaurant and a brewery is, “to give people a great experience.” That idea is reflected in her blog.

Holston Building, Knoxville, July 2016

Holston Building, Knoxville, July 2016

Their one foray into a culinary business was an odd twist in their journey in which they bought a gas station and deli along with the property beside it with the intention of opening an indoor motocross track. That never materialized, but they operated the station and deli for ten years. They considered opening a restaurant in Norris, but decided the traffic there wouldn’t be able to support what they had in mind, nor would the locations which were available. When they found the space at the Holston, they knew they had the spot.

Initial plans will include a brewery and restaurant on the ground floor, with an event space in the vault downstairs. The primary entrance to the restaurant will be via Krutch Park and plans are underway there for patio seating adjacent to the building and looking out into the park. Plans for a second phase may include artist and artisan spaces in the remainder of the basement. They hope to have the restaurant and brewery operational by winter of 2017 and the retail space about eighteen months later. Duane Grieve is the architect and plans are almost completed.

As you might imagine, plans continue to evolve. In January they purchased a seven barrel brewing system from Bosco’s Brewery when they closed their Nashville location. They will employ both a chef for the restaurant and a brew master for the brewery and they are currently looking for both. While the concept may change, they are currently thinking low country cuisine will be the focus, with fresh caught gulf seafood and particularly fresh shrimp. They’ve secured a vendor on the coast and that part of the model is ready to go.

Plans call for a causal, comfortable and welcoming atmosphere where people can relax and enjoy some excellent seafood as well as other meat selections, salads and healthy offerings. A full bar including guest taps for other local breweries will be included. Lisa noted that the other local breweries had been exceptionally supportive of their new endeavor. Seating is planned for in excess of 200.

Holston Building, Knoxville, July 2016

Holston Building, Knoxville, July 2016

Lisa admitted that what started as a simple concept has grown tremendously. The couple has held informal talks with the city and feels they will be able to proceed, though they will have typical approvals of plans and inspections to come. Full plans and the space will be on display and Lisa will be available to discuss them next Friday night at the Premier Party for the Urban Home and Garden Tour on August 4. To meet her and hear more about the concept, buy tickets here.

I’m excited to have a business locating in the ground floor (and later in the basement) of the Holston. Located directly across from the pending revival of the Farragut Hotel, the location feels poised for success. A patio looking out onto Krutch Park and fresh gulf shrimp sounds just about perfect.

Tour Downtown Homes at the Urban Home and Garden Tour

The Holston, 531 South Gay Street, Knoxville, July 2014

I can’t remember the year my wife and I first attended a tour of downtown homes. It must have been sometime in the early 2000’s. We were struck with the range of residences, from traditional to modern, from large buildings to small and from main corridors to hidden side streets and alleyways. Some of them, we agreed, we could see ourselves in and others, not so much. But we loved the conversation and kept returning. Until one year (2009) we found the perfect spot for us and moved to the center city. I call these tours a gateway drug for a reason.

While the tours through the years have been mostly hosted by City People, this year they have chosen to take a break and the East Tennessee Community Design Center has stepped in with an expanded version of the tours they have done for the last few years. While they haven’t always focused on homes, often opting to showcase other kinds of spaces, this year they will do just that. The focus will be on homes with unique outdoor spaces.

But it all starts with a Premier Party August 4, which takes place in the first floor of the Holston from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM. That’s a very interesting space in its own right. I first wrote about it here, two years ago tomorrow. I’ll have more details on very cool plans for the space in this Friday’s article and you’ll be able to explore it for yourself (plus the amazing vault below) and see the printed plans at the party.

The Holston, 531 South Gay Street, Knoxville, July 2014

The Holston, 531 South Gay Street, Knoxville, July 2014

Basement Space at the Holston, 531 South Gay Street, Knoxville, July 2014

Basement Space at the Holston, 531 South Gay Street, Knoxville, July 2014

You’ll also be treated to food samples by a local chef, along with wine pairings while enjoying the piano stylings of Dr. Bill Snyder on piano. Dr. Bruce Wheeler will discuss Knoxville’s history and some of the history of the Elliot (at the intersection of Church and State) after which attendees will be given a tour of one of downtown’s finest homes which happens to be in that building. It isn’t included on the tour the following two days. Tickets for the party are $125 and include the party and the tour (which costs $30). You can purchase tickets here.

The tour itself will run for two days starting Friday, August 5 (1st Friday), from 5:30 PM – 8:00 PM and continuing Saturday, August 6 from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Participants will start at the Phoenix Building, 418 S. Gay Street and it’s something to see in itself. I’ve touted it as downtown’s most valuable building. It offers not only residences, but a coffee shop, bank, dry cleaner, convenient care clinic, drug store and soon soda fountain and lunch counter. Snoop around and see if you aren’t impressed.

Phoenix Building, 418 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, February 2015

Phoenix Building, 418 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, February 2015

You can purchase a ticket on the spot or in advance for $30 and you may do so here. From the Phoenix, you’ll receive a brochure which will direct you on a walking tour of homes in eight different downtown buildings, each featuring a unique outdoor space. It may stretch your idea of what it’s like to live in the city. Volunteers will be stationed throughout to make sure you find your way.

You’ll visit homes in the Carson, located at 713 S. Central Street sits off the beaten path and will be missed by most people who visit downtown. The building dates to 1940, but was redeveloped by Kevin and Melinda Grimac starting in 2005 and among its many features is a walled back yard. Next, the tour includes the Holston (531 S. Gay), built in 1913 and redeveloped in 2005. Many of the condos include balconies overlooking the city via Krutch Park.

Crown Court, Knoxville, February 12, 2014

Crown Court, Knoxville, February 12, 2014

Kendrick Place

Kendrick Place

Built in 1929 as a part of the YMCA, Crown Court (535 Locust St.), also on the tour, was transformed into condos in 2007 and includes a beautiful interior courtyard. The next stop on the tour is Kendrick Place (600 block of Union), built in 1916 as two rows of seven single-family homes with a courtyard (the residents call it the “mews”) in between. Kristopher Kendrick, Knoxville’s modern saint of preservation and redevelopment, oversaw their updating in 1981, restoring them to single-family homes.

Gallery Lofts (402 S. Gay St.) sit atop Mast General Store. The building was constructed in 1898 after the “million dollar fire” of 1897 burned the previous building and was transformed to lofts after the opening of Mast General Store. A number of the units feature balconies facing off the back of the building. That stop on the tour is followed by downtown’s first new apartment construction. Once designated for a jail, all buildings on the city block were demolished in the 1990s and the spot remained a massive parking lot for nearly fifteen years until developer Buzz Goss opened Marble Alley this year. It features an open space in the center of the development with a salt-water pool, community grills and other amenities.

Emporium Building, Knoxville

Emporium Building, Knoxville

The tour winds down on the 100 block of Gay Street in the Emporium (1902) which was redeveloped by David Dewhirst early this century. The building not only features condos, but is home to a number of artists and art organizations and is a favorite stop on First Friday rambles. The building also boasts a cool courtyard formed by the absence of a previously neighboring building and the elevation of Gay Street. The tour ends in the Old City at the Jackson Ateliers Building at 130 W. Jackson, which has included residences for the past decade, but was only completed in 2012. The home on the tour features a very cool roof-top room with a great view of the city.

So, buy your tickets to the Premier Party or pick up the lower-priced ticket to the home tour itself. All proceeds support the fine work at the East Tennessee Community Design Center. Follow the link to learn more about how they are making Knoxville a better place, or read my profile of the center and of Wayne Blasius, Executive Director. I hope to see you on the tour.

 

 

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