Top Posts of 2013, Part Two

Tickets to the final George Jones Concert, Knoxville, April 2013

Tickets to the final George Jones Concert, Knoxville, April 2013

So, here we are: the top five posts of the year 2013. The top four are from the last five months of the year. Four are what I would call “serious.” Three could be construed as business-related, though one I would characterize as more investigative. It’s the first time I would have used that word to describe anything I’ve written and it elicited quite a bit of discussion here and on Facebook with some people pleased with what I’d written and others not so happy.

Number five, George Jones: The Final Concert,¬†represented a personal and emotional post, for me. I attended a George Jones concert with my father, among others, and given George’s obviously failing health along with that of my father and the fact that my mother had died months earlier, it hit me really hard. When the news broke, first that George had cancelled the rest of the short tour, and next that he had died, I realized I, along with Knoxville, had witnessed the final concert by a giant. The post also illustrates another thing I’ve realized about my blog: few comments doesn’t always mean fewer viewers. This is one of my most read posts of all time and it drew a paltry four comments.

Group West, 126 Jackson Avenue, Knoxville, November 2013

Group West, 126 Jackson Avenue, Knoxville, November 2013

Number four, Guns, Ammo and the Center City?, started with a message I received asking a question about Group West. The reader speculated they were connected to the theater shootings in Colorado. They are not – that’s another Knoxville business – but it set me on a complex journey across the Internet finding many interesting connections and concluding that the evidence suggests many tons of ammunition is stored on Jackson Avenue. It drew twenty-one comments (including my own) and intense exchanges on Facebook. In the end I was told it is legal, but I’m not convinced it’s a good idea.

St. John's Episcopal Church, Walnut and Cumberland, Knoxville

St. John’s Episcopal Church, Walnut and Cumberland, Knoxville

Number three, An Open Letter to St. John’s Episcopal Church, struck a nerve with a number of readers. It was my last attempt at averting the demolition disaster and I took the metaphorical gloves off because I realized time was short and hope was dim. It got re-posted quite a bit around the Internet and I always appreciate that. In the end, of course, it did not stop the demolition (see number six), but it did underscore that, as a group, we are interested in preservation and do not feel demolition of the city is the best way to help it grow.

Bella Luna, Market Square, Knoxville, November 2013

Bella Luna, Market Square, Knoxville, November 2013

Number two, A Shocking Closure on Market Square, detailed the closure of Bella Luna after what I thought was a successful run. Readers weighed in with opinions about their food and service. i heard from readers who I appreciate and respect, some of whom contacted me privately, to say how strongly they feel we don’t have excellent food downtown compared to other cities in which they have lived. Others mentioned how frequently it was near-empty. For me, I liked the food and really appreciated their support of the jazz community.

Icon Restaurant and Lounge, Sunsphere, Knoxville, November 2013

Icon Restaurant and Lounge, Sunsphere, Knoxville, November 2013

And Number one, the most read story I wrote all year long? That would be Icon Re-opens as a Restaurant and Lounge. It only drew four comments. I knew it would be interesting to my readers, but I had no idea how much so. I’m not sure how to explain it, but it is worth noting that five of the top ten posts are about food. I guess we really like to eat – or at least we like to read about it. If you haven’t tried the restaurant, by the way, I’d encourage you to do so. The new owners are from Oak Ridge where they operated a very good restaurant with excellent food.

So, that was the year that was on the blog. We also reached a mile-stone that I’m pretty proud of: we had over a quarter of a million page views. It’s a long way from the few a day I started with. According to Google Analytics, the final counts were 97,233 people visited 170,759 times and looked at 257,546 pages. Here’s hoping for a great 2014 as we continue this little urban journey together.

A Shocking Closure on Market Square

Bella Luna, Market Square, Knoxville, November 2013

Bella Luna, Market Square, Knoxville, November 2013

I was startled to see the news on Facebook that Bella Luna has closed on Market Square. Often there are signs that a business is struggling, signals that something’s not going well. Noticeable changes in food or staffing. Large swaths of empty tables. Rumors usually filter through downtown. Not so in this situation.

Keith Brown and Will Boyd, Bella Luna, Market Square, Knoxville, November 2013

Keith Brown and Will Boyd, Bella Luna, Market Square, Knoxville, November 2013

On Monday, the following email went out to the artists whose work lined the walls, “We are sorry to say that we are closing Bella Luna. If at all possible, please pick up your artwork by 6:30 this evening. If you cannot make this time frame, you’ll need to contact Dewhirt Properties to schedule another time. We have thoroughly enjoyed your contribution to the aesthetic of our restaurant.

Thanks,
Christin Love
co-owner
Bella Luna Restaurant

Employees picked up their final check on Monday. When my friend, whose photography was on the walls, spoke to Donna. She said business was “up and down.” I know it must be hard to make a business like this work and it has to be excruciating to see your dream die. I admire people who give it their all and I feel for the ones who don’t find the success they sought.

Emily Mathis, Bella Luna, Market Square, Knoxville, November 2013

Emily Mathis, Bella Luna, Market Square, Knoxville, November 2013

Lance Owens and Nelda Hill, Bella Luna, Market Square, Knoxville, November 2013

Lance Owens and Nelda Hill, Bella Luna, Market Square, Knoxville, November 2013

 

The restaurant opened July 22, 2011 and I had lunch there that day with a friend. I enjoyed the food then and have many times since. I met both Donna Parang and Christin Love on that first day and I was very impressed with their background and passion. They had plans to line the walls with great art and to host jazz musicians – and they did both very nicely in the coming months and years.

Cynthia Markert and Kelle Jolly, Bella Luna, Market Square, Knoxville, November 2013

Cynthia Markert and Kelle Jolly, Bella Luna, Market Square, Knoxville, November 2013

Bella Luna, Market Square, Knoxville, November 2013

Bella Luna, Market Square, Knoxville, November 2013

Urban Woman and I have enjoyed many fine meals on the patio. It was a great place for people watching. One of my favorite nights there was timed perfectly to get an outdoor table and order just as the Jazz on the Square started for the night. The restaurant sat just the right distance from the stage to allow for both enjoyment of the music and good conversation without raising our voices.

Daniel Taylor, Bella Luna, Market Square, Knoxville, Spring 2013

Daniel Taylor, Bella Luna, Market Square, Knoxville, Spring 2013

Daniel Taylor, Bella Luna, Market Square, Knoxville, Spring 2013

Daniel Taylor and Emily Mathis, Bella Luna, Market Square, Knoxville, Spring 2013

I’ve also enjoyed the late night music with Vance Thompson, Taylor Coker, Jamel Mitchell, Will Boyd, Keith Brown and others. Another special memory was the Donald Brown CD release party last spring. A who’s who of Knoxville Jazz musicians were present and took turns playing in the band with Donald. My friend Daniel Taylor took a fun turn at the drums. Lance Owens was in attendance and even took a turn on the dance floor with Cynthia Markert and others. It was a magical Sunday afternoon.

Jason Day, Donald Brown CD Release Party, Bella Luna, Knoxville, Spring 2013

Jason Day, Donald Brown CD Release Party, Bella Luna, Knoxville, Spring 2013

Lance Owens, Bella Luna, Market Square, Knoxville, November 2013

Lance Owens, Bella Luna, Market Square, Knoxville, November 2013

It was a sad day when Abode closed in the same space over two years ago. Bella Luna came along and filled the spot nicely and, hopefully, the same will be true in this situation. Still, this feels like a blow to Market Square and a significant loss for downtown. Obviously, there is great momentum going forward, but this stings a bit.

Late Summer Images of Knoxville, 2012

View from the Gay Street Bridge, Knoxville, Late Summer, 2012

I’m still working my way through a back log of photographs I like, but for which I never found the right blog. Several of these rank among my recent favorites. Hopefully you’ll like some of them, as well. We have a beautiful and interesting city. Enjoy.

Triumph Motorcycle in Old North Knoxville, Late Summer, 2012

Sunflowers at Market Square Farmers’ Market, Knoxville, Late Summer, 2012

Squirrel in Krutch Park, Knoxville, Late Summer, 2012

Sculpture in Krutch Park, Knoxville, Late Summer, 2012

Giant Mushrooms at the Market Square Farmers’ Market, Knoxville, Late Summer, 2012

Flowers on Market Square, Knoxville, Late Summer, 2012

Harley, Knoxville, Late Summer, 2012

Gay Street at Night, Knoxville, Late Summer, 2012

Gay Street and the Tennessee Theatre at Night, Knoxville, Late Summer, 2012

French Market, Knoxville, Late Summer, 2012

Market Square Farmers’ Market, Knoxville, Late Summer, 2012

Beautiful Entrance to the Cate Building, Knoxville, 713 Market Street, Late Summer, 2012

Dogs on Market Square, Knoxville, Late Summer, 2012

Bella Luna, Knoxville, Late Summer, 2012