|John Ledbetter, Art, Charlotte Tolley and friend enjoy a laugh at Just Ripe|
Three years ago I remember walking past the Daylight building with Urban Woman, Shaft and Shaft’s Woman. It was a wreck, but there seemed to be some sort of pre-activity activity happening inside. We’d progressed past most non-residents at that point to realize it is possible to park downtown. Like most suburbanites, we were fixated on the fact that massive starvation must be the norm in downtown Knoxville because they didn’t have a grocery store! Never mind the fact that a Food City, two Krogers, Fresh Market, Three Rivers Market and Walmart, for goodness’ sake, sat within a ten minute or so drive.
|Jeff (Three Bears Coffee) chats beans while Cruise|
As I recall, it was Shaft who first noted the building and it’s potential to deliver food stuffs to the hungry denizens of downtown. In that incarnation, we pictured a grocery store taking half the bottom floor with a butcher shop and bakery sitting conveniently beside it. Our vision was a bit off – and we’re glad to have John Black Studio, Union Avenue Books, Reruns and the Happy Envelope as well as all the residents in the upper floors – but we got the grocery store location just right :-).
|Ben, Amy, Jeff and friend talk the business, Just Ripe, Knoxville|
After moving to our home in downtown we spent over a year walking through the construction site that was to become a vibrant business center in the city. When we first heard a grocery store was planned for the location, we were ecstatic. It wasn’t that we were starving for food, but the idea of fresh, local and regional food within walking distance seemed like a dream. The months until the rumor became reality seemed to drag.
|Kristen Faerber outside Just Ripe with friends, Union Avenue, Knoxville|
It was last May that Kristen Faerber and Charlotte Tolley opened Just Ripe and we’ve loved it from first sight. We’re still learning about good foods and enjoying some of the best eating in our lives as a result. We’ve upgraded our honey, coffee, breads, eggs, vegetables and other foods. We still make a run to a box store when we have to, but we can hardly stand to eat their food. We were always able to eat, but now we eat better – and we walk to buy our food, which is important to us. The burritos are also our dependable backup on those evenings when cooking is not an option.
It was with all these good feelings that we joined in the celebration of this new piece of the fabric of the city when they recently held their half-birthday. It’s hard to believe it’s been six months. Here’s hoping it lasts another sixty years or more. On hand for the festivities were a number of their suppliers such as Jeff Scheaffnocker (Three Bears Coffee), Ben and Amy Becker (Harry’s Deli), John Ledbetter (Hines Valley Farm) and the fine folks from Cruze Farms.
|Smiles and laughter among friends, Just Ripe, Knoxville|
Fun was had by all, as friends stopped by to taste samples and meet the people who help feed them. It was about as removed from a big-box experience as you’ll ever have at a grocery store. The evening concluded with a set of films which we really enjoyed. The movie about Cruze Farms almost made me want to try buttermilk – but not quite.
|The night ended with movies on the Wall|
If you haven’t made it there, yet, you owe it to yourself. You may just feel like you’ve found a new home and you’ll certainly leave with something delicious. You might even see Urban Guy and Urban Toddler at our favorite table along the front with our milk, coffee and cookies. If you see us, say “hello.” It’s that kind of a place.