Taking Care of Business

If there is one constant downtown, it’s the flux. Businesses come, businesses go, businesses get proposed and forgotten. Here are updates on a few that I’ve spotted:

New windows, 37 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2010
Framing for the entrance at 37 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2010

37 Market Square seems to be coming along in fits and starts. It was previously reported that it would be a two story restaurant, but now we know which one. Josh Flory got the scoop today on what is going into the space: Blue Coast Burrito, though the indication is that it won’t open before January.  That makes two Mexican styled restaurants on the square with this and Soccer Taco, plus the Spanish influenced foods at Sangria’s.

A view through the front entrance, 37 Market Square, Knoxville, September 2010

Soccer Taco seems always packed, though I have to say I’ve eaten there twice and not been very excited by the experience. The service was not exactly rendered with a smile and the food was adequate, but not delicious. I like Sangria’s a bit better, but they don’t seem to be packing in the crowds. Maybe there is a place for them all. It will be interesting to see.

Nouveau Classics and For Sale sign side by side, 100 Block Gay Street, Knoxville
Nouveau Classics, 100 Block of Gay Street. You may not look until Thursday!

On the southeast corner of the 100 Block of Gay Street, furniture store Nouveau Classics is set to open September 30. This is also interesting because they are right around the corner from long-term Knoxville furniture store, O.P. Jenkins. While they are both furniture stores, one is more traditional and the other store is targeting young urbanites.

Their door was open when I last passed there and I took a couple of pictures through the open door from the sidewalk, but a lady quickly emerged and asked what I was doing in a stern sort of way. I told her I was taking pictures and told her about the blog and she insisted that I not post the pictures because they aren’t ready. She looked as if she considered grabbing my camera. I told her I wouldn’t use the pictures and she looked skeptical.

I guess I get it that you want your business presented in the best light, but it is free publicity and, as you might guess, the store has to be pretty close to what it will look like thirty-six hours after that conversation. Besides, isn’t being friendly to a blogger more likely to get your store presented in the best light?

Carleo’s, 117 Central, Old City, Knoxville

Down on Central in the Old City I had a slightly less intense conversation, but also not so warm and friendly. This business has been spotlighted on The Bottom Line. A bar called “Carleo’s” opened last weekend, but has its official grand opening this week. A guy working outside described it as a neighborhood pub. He also seemed guarded as I asked him about the place. I’m not sure who I spoke to, but Duane Carleo is the owner and he’s had a number of other ventures including Southbound and Da Vinci’s Pizza in the Old City.

Am I the only curious person in the city and so I stand out as dangerous? I wonder if these folks have considered that people passing their soon-to-be-opened businesses are their potential customers? I don’t mean to exaggerate the interactions, no one was extremely rude, and I do want people to check out new businesses downtown, but a little friendliness goes a long way. John Black was so friendly that it made me more likely to use his business and to encourage others to do so. That’s how it works. I’ll end with a picture from a shoot he was doing as I passed.
Boy with a spectacular Mohawk is photographed by John Black