It seems like years since the clever sign, “Coming Spoon,” went up in the window at 36 Market Square. Very close to a year ago the news broke that Orange Leaf Yogurt would occupy the retail portion of the address. An opening date of August 2012 was set. I wondered at the time of the wisdom and reasoning of waiting until the end of summer to open a frozen treats business. What followed was what went before: a seemingly unending series of delays.
While each step has been difficult, owner Ken Mills insists many people have been helpful. He mentions Mayor Rogero’s help getting sidewalk issues sorted out and the help provided by Bill Lyons and others. While some might say Ken has occasionally been rendered a bit cranky over the whole thing, he’s never lost faith in the project and it is a fine gift to the city that he will leave behind.
The upstairs apartment units are slowly coming along, but should move into high gear, soon, when final approvals are expected. Ken does not mince words when he says they will be available for moving in on July 1. Interest has been high, though it has been dented by the delays. Nearly forty people have at one time or another asked to be placed on a waiting list for the nine units. While I waited outside to meet Ken for a tour, a small group gathered and began asking questions. Two couples asked to join us on the walk-through and one seemed likely to select this for their new home as they leave Raleigh, North Carolina and relocate to Knoxville.
And a sweet address it will be. While downtown continues to stretch in various directions, there is no doubt as to where the heart of downtown is found. Market Square defines the central point for dining and the starting point for festivals and entertainment. A home overlooking the square is about as good as it gets in the city at this time. I’m among those who like to be a bit off the most traveled route, but the spot is ground zero for everything that makes life exciting in our city.
And Orange Leaf Yogurt? The opening date is even more ambitious: April 1. No fooling. Just about three weeks from now you might find yourself inside a new yogurt shop on Market Square – or in outdoor seating doing the same. Seating on the Square seems likely, with seating around the corner on the spacious sidewalk along Wall Avenue a distinct possibility if the demand is there. It certainly beats the fencing running along that side now and for much of the last three years.
The interior construction of the shop is well underway with bright green walls, attractive tile and a counter-top running half the length of the store. Equipment including refrigerators and other appliances I didn’t recognize are installed or sitting in packaging waiting their turn. The flooring is set across nearly half the space and three weeks seems like a real possibility.
I feel this will be a milestone, of sorts. This will be the first time in many, many years the four corners of Market Square have each been occupied. I have only a vague memory of the last time this corner had a tenant. Maybe it was the late eighties when a small convenience type store was open there. Now we simply have to fill in the remaining gaps. I think we’ll do it and maybe it will be this year.
If you are interested and would like more information or would like to reserve one of these units (I predict they will all be gone long before July 1), send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.