Yes, Suttree’s High Gravity Tavern is Open!

Matt and Anne behind the bar at Suttree's

I don’t think I’ve had another topic interest readers as much as Suttree’s. I wrote about the pending opening three months ago and that post just keeps on getting the hits. I doubt a day has gone by that someone hasn’t found the blog via Google search or through a link on someone else’s blog or website and I think it’s well over two thousand hits on that post and still rising. So, it’s here already! You don’t have to simply read about it – go there and drink it all in, well, in person!

Suttree's High Gravity Tavern, Knoxville

In the meantime, I’ll give you  a little to whet your appetite. An early evening call from Shaft led to a late evening visit to see how it’s all turned out. Pretty awesome is the short answer. It’s  a warm, inviting space with lots of wood and the fresh smell of new finishes on the floors and the beautiful bar which was handcrafted by John, who works next door at Morelock’s Music from wood that had to be removed from a portion of the floor.

Suttree's High Gravity Tavern, Knoxville

The crowds have flowed in since the recent opening and they stayed near-full the entire time we lingered. One oddity I noticed was the great seating by the front window – perfect for a larger group – stayed unused. Maybe everyone prefers to closer to the bar and the rest of the crowd. It is a place that encourages conversation with friends new and old. We talked to several people we didn’t know when we entered and saw others seemingly doing the same. Something about the space just makes that an easy natural development.

Hummus, Crackers, Pretzels and Pimento at Suttree's

Anne brought out some delicious food and Matt served up the drinks. The wine selection is very brief – a couple of reds and a couple of whites, but anyone who has spent time with Matt would know he wouldn’t offer it if it wasn’t good. Shaft didn’t take the plunge into the high gravity on this visit, choosing instead to go with one of his summertime favorites: Sierra Nevada Summer Lager. In addition to the craft and high beers on tap, flights of beer are offered for a sampling of the wares.

The food was great, as well. We sampled two different types of pimento cheese – one traditional and one with a spice and liked both. The hummus and crackers, cocoa almonds and pretzel roll with ham, cheese and strawberry jam we all amazing. I really didn’t expect to find such good food. It wasn’t a matter of being good “for bar food,” it was simply very, very good food.

Cute Girl Behind the Bar at Suttree's, Knoxville

The bar was stocked with two dozen beers on tap and more in a cooler. As much fun as everything else going on was seeing who was behind the bar. I’d hoped to meet the famous Ratchet (AKA Jason) who has a great blog called Ratchet Brews, but, perhaps predictably, he was on a beercation to Asheville’s Beer Week. Another nice guy and a cute girl who acted shy but liked to have her picture made were behind the bar as was Steve Dupree. Is there anything downtown that Steve hasn’t done at some point?

Millie and Jerry at Suttree's

The ever photogenic Anne and Matt agreed to another photo at my hands, this time behind their new bar. I also met Jerry and Millie Shelton who introduced themselves as readers of the blog. They’ve been downtown residents for four years and both walk or ride the Trolley to work. My heroes. Seriously, it was great meeting them. I always appreciate it when people introduce themselves.

Who *is* this guy?

There was one unusual character present that night. I missed his name because I was trying to hold at least a modicum of space between my face and his, which he made very difficult. He seemed to think I should know him as a famous local musician. He said he was a drummer and he was certain if Anne would let him play the piano she would hire him. There has to be one in every bar and they always find me. Adds color I suppose. He was determined that I take his picture and since that meant he would have to move just an inch or two further from my face, I agreed.

So, there you go. Warm, inviting, delicious. A neighborhood place. Maybe everybody won’t know your name at first, but I bet they’ll learn it soon enough. Check it out at 409 Gay Street.


  1. It’s a cool place. We popped in one night to check it out (clicking off locations on the ever growing list of new places to visit). They have a great selection of beers. I found a new love in Sweetwater’s Happy Ending. My cup of tea and the waiter even laughed at my terrible, off color joke concering the name of the beer. Anywho, I like the space and the decor. I think they need to get some fabrics or something in there to kill the sound echo a bit. Otherwise, I could see myself hanging out there more often.

    I think I know that close-talker guy, but I can’t place him. Let me think about it.

  2. tthurman says

    I was thinking as I read this “Urban guy at a beer joint!”, that is until I read that they do serve wine as well. Figures you post about a four year resident riding the trolley to work pretty much right after I posted about how empty they seem to be. (^_^;)

  3. KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

    Hey guys, I do really like the place and, yes, a little noise reduction would be helpful, John, I agree. Mr. T. it looks like I was one step ahead of you on the trolley deal!

  4. Agree with you both, John and UrbanGuy. Nice place, nice folks, nice vibe, great bar food, friendly service, and it would be very hard to grumble about the beer list. I found myself looking for ways to dampen the noise, too. For a spot with no TV or sound system playing, you had to lean in and speak up to be heard. I wondered about fabric and the ceiling, as well. Will be back for certain.

  5. Shared this post with my husband, a Cormac fan, even though this interesting place has little to do with the author! Husband really liked the blog and the pictures, and said, “Looks like another good place to visit downtown!” We’ll get there!

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      I’m glad he liked it. I’m a Cormac fan, too, and couldn’t we agree that place is critical in his novels. Gay Street is pretty much a direct connection to the book. Beyond that, the owners didn’t want to belabor the point. They felt like those who got it would, and everyone else would just be puzzled.

  6. YanniKnoxville says

    rock that Kay’s shirt Matt!!!

    gotta print another run soon.

  7. Hey sorry I missed you, I was indeed on beercation in Asheville. Come on back sometime when I’m there and introduce yourself. Great article by the way. I’ve had your website bookmarked for a while and read it regularly. I dig what you do.

  8. Alan and I visited last week just to check it out. Loved running into friends there. Also loved the food. Thankfully, they had some pinot grigio, so I was happy. But they really do need to address the noise issue. We were exhausted from straining to hear what was being said at our own table – and the place wasn’t even full.

    On the other hand, we also checked out the new Sky bar a few doors down and were disappointed. It is clearly a late-night dance club and we clearly are not the target demographic. I’ll leave it at that. Something for everyone, I guess.

    Love downtown.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      I’m not sure what’s up with Sky Bar. I’ve never see it with a crowd – but then maybe the crowd builds long after I’m in bed. 🙂

  9. I think one of the big problems with skybar is that people dont realize that its there. They have done a really poor job of getting exposure for the bar. I dont think people realize that its there.

  10. Thanks for the nice write up! Let me note that the noise issue is being addressed. I mentioned it before we ever opened and have heard from several folks since then. This week will hopefully mark the beginning of the serious efforts to deal with it. We do have back up/additional plans if these do not sufficiently address the issue.

    Cormac does indeed know of the establishment. I think his brother, Dennis, took a tour of the place prior to opening (but don’t hold my feet to the fire on that) but I certainly spoke to Dennis about the place and he told me that we had Cormac’s approval in using the name. Dennis and Cormac live on the same property in New Mexico these days but Dennis and his lovely wife, Judy, get back here to Knoxpatch from time to time.

    Yes, we do have a limited wine selection but, I’m told they are good. We have a limited selection of very good burbons, gins, scotches, ryes and vodkas. We have a great offering of beer. There are places you can go with a larger selection but none with a better selection. Plus, we know beer and want everyone to love beer as we do so, we will work with you. (I have personally converted several alleged non-beer drinkers since the place opened) Come on down and talk beery to me.

    p.s. if you show up early the noise is not a factor. We open at 3:00pm.


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