The Semi-Regular Business Update

Just when it seems safe to say that the business comings and goings have been covered for a while, new developments present themselves in bunches. Some of these businesses have been mentioned before, but there is a new detail or two. Then, there are a couple that have been covered locally elsewhere that I’ll mention and one of those is pretty exciting, though a bit dangerous, for a bibliophile.

S and W Grand in Better Days – Will they return?

The year started with three closures all of which were significant in their own way. Regas, probably the oldest restaurant in Knoxville, closed on North Gay. Arby’s, which is fast food, yes, but which had been downtown for decades – and how many restaurants can say that – closed it’s doors. Then, of course, the one that seemed to surprise everyone the most and the one with the highest profile in the downtown resurgence, the S and W Grand announced they would at least take a hiatus. Not a very good start to the year – and yes I know some of this was technically the end of last year, but it felt like the start to the new one.

Outside Seating at New Nama

Interior at New Nama, 500 Block of Gay Street

When last we tuned in, Nama was looking toward moving from the 100 block to the 500 block of Gay Street, just beside the Regal Movie Theater. I posted a photograph of the sign as it was hoisted from the truck. The latest development is that the signs are not only in place, but the outside dining area and the inside look virtually ready to open. I’m guessing this might be the next significant opening we see. Also, in that same post, a reader stated that a new restaurant is ready to take the place of Nama as soon as the old site is vacant. This will make two new restaurants on the 100 block with the addition of Harry’s Deli.

We’re still waiting on Blue Coast Burrito at the northwest corner of Market Square. The outside looks great, but inside still has a way to go. Meanwhile, the Lunchbox recently announced a move from the First Tennessee towers to a location on the 500 block of Market Street, across from Krutch Park. It’s pretty exciting to see new businesses spread from Gay Street and the square. I’m seeing this as competition for the Market Square Kitchen and I’m wondering about its future. When the new owners announced their renovation plans for the Hotel Saint Oliver recently, they indicated that they planned a stronger presence on Market Square. Two restaurants currently occupy space in that building on the ground level facing Market Square: The Market Square Kitchen and Shono’s. Will one or both of them go to give the Hotel frontage on Market Square?

Just Ripe – Painted Walls, coffee machine – Bring on the Food!
Previously I reported on the fund-raising effort for Just Ripe the small grocery and food store that will open on the 500 block of Union Avenue in the Daylight Building. It was very successful and they are pushing their campaign to raise just a bit more money prior to an anticipated March opening. As you can see from the picture, the interior is getting closer to ready. The walls are painted and is that a fancy coffee maker?
The biggest news in the last few days centers on the coming of a book store to the Daylight Building. It will be called Union Avenue Books and will feature both new and used books. It will be operated by the owners of Mr. K’s books, plus one notable alum of both Davis Kidd Bookstores and Carpe Librum: Flossie McNabb. I personally adore Flossie and I’m so glad she will be a part of the downtown scene. I only hope I don’t bankrupt myself. I’ve never had a bookstore within a very short walking distance. This could be dangerous. It’s also important for the western portion of downtown. So far, there is very little reason to stray from Gay Street, the Old City or Market Square just to look for something you might want. You already know if you need a photograph (John Black Studios), Invitations (Happy Envelope) or food (Just Ripe), but you never know when you might just want to look around the book store.
So we lost three restaurants at the beginning, we have two restaurants moving and looming on the horizon I count three new restaurants, a new grocery store and a new book store. Maybe this year won’t turn out so badly, after all.