One Business Isn’t Coming, Another Progresses, One Leaves

Future Home of Bullman's Gym, Kress Bldg., Gay Street, Knoxville, December 2014

Formerly Announced Future Home of Bullman’s Gym, Gay Street, Knoxville

More business news continues to pop up here and there. Today’s news isn’t overwhelmingly positive. Business is a complicated matter and a wide range of variables can force a project to change directions entirely. We have a couple of instances of changing directions today, along with one that is steadily moving forward.

Let’s start with the one that isn’t coming, after all. I first wrote about Bullman’s Kickboxing and Krav Maga  last January. I met with owner Terry Bullman to talk about the move into the Kress Building and everything seemed a go, but it wasn’t to be. I spoke to him last week to check  on the status of the gym and he told me that he’d decided to focus for now on expanding the gym at his Western Plaza location.

He doesn’t feel the final chapter has been written on his downtown interests, however. He indicated he still plans to have  a downtown gym in the next “twelve to twenty-four months.” It will not, however, be in the former Kress Building, as he has let his option go on that property.

Brewing Equipment Moving into Place at Knox Whiskey Works, Jackson Ave, Knoxville, June 2015

Distilling Equipment Moving into Place at Knox Whiskey Works, Jackson Ave, Knoxville, June 2015

Knox Whiskey Works, meanwhile is steadily moving toward an opening date. Stanton Webster, the partner in the project who gave me the story last November, told me last week, “Build out continues as well as our work on getting all state and federal permitting including licensing, formulas, labels and brand registrations.” He indicated more news will be forthcoming soon, so hopefully that will bring with it a projected opening date. Stay tuned. In the meantime, you might want to go their website and check out their new blog.

West Jackson Workshops, Former Home of Boxwood Brake, Future Home of Knox Whiskey Works, Knoxville, June 2015

West Jackson Workshops, Former Home of Boxwood Brake, Future Home of Knox Whiskey Works, Knoxville, June 2015

Boxwood Brake Closing in Downtown Knoxville, June 2015

Boxwood Brake Closing in Downtown Knoxville, June 2015

Finally, another business is leaving downtown. Last February I wrote about the opening of Boxwood Brake in the space immediately beside Knox Whiskey Works at the West Jackson Workshops. The cool  little store which offered a bit of everything and was the project of Darbi Henley. It was a spot where you might pick up a little furniture, clothing, re-purposed bits of everything, jewelry and even attend an art class. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to remain in the space.

They announced as much at the beginning of June on their Facebook Page: “We will be closing our brick and mortar shop at the end of June. We’ve only been open there for a short time, but we are excited to transition to our true passion of a more nomadic shop style! . . . We will be setting up at tons of events in town and hopefully even the farmer’s market next season! So, make sure to keep following our feed and stay updated on where you can find us and help us to spread the word! And remember, now that we are gypsies, we would love any suggestions for events and venues hosting vendors like us!”

You can still take a look at some of the great products offered by Darbi at their Etsy shop. The space being vacated is a very good one, as Darbi went on to say in the above post. I hope to have more in the next few days regarding the new tenant.


  1. spinboy says:

    white whiskey is commonly called White Dog. simply unaged whiskey. aging makes it mellow. so if your White Dog is amazingly smooth, then the aging would put you into a class such as Blanton’s. popcorn felt that he made whiskey, not moonshine, as *that* was made by people who “didn’t know whut dey wur dooin”.

  2. Sharon Kintzele says:

    I don’t drink alcohol at all,but I don’t have a problem with others who want to have a drink occasionally. If that is what you choose, then have one, just be responsible and don’t drive after that.

  3. What about the hotel planned at the old Knoxville news sentinel site? Is it another replay of the sentinel tower?

  4. Michael says:

    I’ve made wagers elsewhere. But I’ll speculate here that the Wild Wings Cafe announced earlier this month to occupy the bottom floor of the Kress Building may or may not come to fruition. At best, I don’t think it will make the end-of-the year opening projected in the KNS piece earlier this month. Time will tell.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      You aren’t the first person I’ve heard say as much. Demo crews were in there today, but something about the Wild Wings thing has hit people as a little doubtful. I’ll look into it at some point.

      • Art Wagner says:

        I’ve not heard a single positive comment about the proposed Wild Wings. No one downtown is going to say “oh, boy, a cheesy chain restaurant with TVs everywhere in one of downtown’s most interesting historic buildings.” Can’t we do better?

        • Odd. I’ve actually heard quite a few people happy about having a real sports bar downtown (Sorry, Skybox, no one likes your Sports-Dance Club abomination). If it comes to fruition, I can see it being quite popular.

      • Michael says:

        I’m none to crazy about Wild Wings. But that really doesn’t have anything to do with my speculation. One tenant has already bailed, and the project seems to be moving very slowly. The progress on the Kress reminds me of some other projects that have stalled and stumbled while announced tenants fade away. I’m curious what experience the current developer has in rehabbing buildings downtown.

        And at this point, any restauranteurs that experience a last minute revelation about needing an adequate grease interceptor is not doing their due diligence.

  5. Duane Wyrick says:

    Check out Escape Game Knoxville coming to Downtown Knoxville in a few days. Beta testing now.

  6. My understanding is that the semantics of the terms “White Whiskey” or “Moonshine” depend if it’s taxed or not. For example I heard say that Popcorn Sutton didn’t consider anything taxed by the government to be considered “Moonshine”.

    • Chris Eaker says:

      So it’s just semantics? Is this taxation distinction obsolete now that moonshine is legal and taxed in the state of TN?

      • Troy Goodale says:

        I agree with Popcorn Sutton…if it is regulated and taxed by the government, then by definition it is not moonshine.

  7. All these alcohol places opening up is really starting to bother me. Alcohol has caused so many problems in my family. Been there done that can’t drink anymore. Family members are alcoholics. All this dry drinking and then people drive. Can’t we have nice restaurants opening up where drinking isn’t involved. Can’t we think of anything else to open besides alcohol. Maybe we should open an AA office somewhere downtown. I feel like a second class citizen in this town because I won’t and can’t drink anymore.

    • Chris Eaker says:

      They’re just responding to what people want. I’m sorry your family has had problems with alcohol. I often like a drink with my dinner. You can enjoy your dinner without a drink if you choose.

    • I have, perhaps, two alcoholic drinks a year if that. I’m sure I’ve had years where I don’t drink any alcohol at all. Yet, I love downtown. You can enjoy establishments where alcohol is served, without partaking.

    • Michael says:

      People having success opening businesses that cater to countless non-alcoholic adults does not make you a second class citizen. And these businesses are succeeding because people are supporting local beer, wine, and whiskey.
      Plenty of restaurants are opening as well. And, more would do so if people spent a little less time and money at McDonalds.

    • Chrissy says:

      I get what you’re saying. At least in a city like Asheville or Chatt, places whose prime business don’t revolve solely around drinking are open past 9 or so. So, if you’re not in the mood for drinking or being around drunk people, there’s no reason to hang out and stroll downtown past a certain time. And perpetuating the early closures of retail downtown (and coffeeshops) is probably the fact that downtown is full of inebriated people. In bigger cities with more creative spaces to pop in to, there is a respite from the sloshed smells, sights and sounds that pour out of bars and other alcohol related places.

      • Chrissy says:

        •amended to add: retail shops likely close earlier at least in part due to not wanting people who have been drinking too much creating trouble.

  8. Chris Eaker says:

    Do you know if Knox Whiskey Works will eventually be making any bourbon or TN Whiskey? Or will it just be shine?

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      They will be making whiskey – the first will be a white whiskey. They will branch out from there and each will have a Knoxville-centric name. The first is Old City Whiskey. No moonshine was mentioned when I did the interview.

      • Chris Eaker says:

        Well, white whiskey is moonshine. It’s not aged. I hope they do make a bourbon-style whiskey aged in oak casks eventually. I’ll definitely give their white whiskey a try, but I much prefer the golden stuff.

        • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

          I guess I showed how much I know about whiskey! Yes, they are going to age whiskey. I think starting there was the quickest way to have a product to offer. I assume we’ll get the amber-colored stuff after they’ve had time for aging. 🙂

          • I hope they don’t rush it to market after less than 24 months–there are several young bourbon/whiskey manufacturers that are doing this and the product is…bad.

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