Goodbye to 11 Cafe – Knoxville Business Updates for September 2012

Sign Outside 11 Cafe, Knoxville, September 2012

Several business related news items have circulated the last couple of weeks and seemed worth a mention. One closing in particular took me by surprise. Only nine months ago I noted the opening of a new coffee shop on the 100 Block, and now comes word from owner Mustapha Moussa that it is closing.

11 Cafe, Knoxville, September 2012

11 Cafe offered something a bit different on the block with its middle eastern fare and coffee, but Mustapha notes that while the experience has been a good one and he’s “made many friends,” in the end it just wasn’t working. Today is planned as the last day for the shop which will go out in style with a comedy night. Best wishes to my friend Mustapha as he pursues other ventures.

Nothing Too Fancy, Knoxville, September 2012
Nothing Too Fancy, Knoxville, September 2012

I also reported recently on the opening of Nothing Too Fancy. When I took the photographs for that blog they were not quite ready for opening, so I shot a few more this weekend that show more of what the store actually looks like. Judging by the lines snaking through the store this past Friday night, they are off to a strong start. I particularly like the Knoxville skyline shirts (Gold skyline on a black shirt), the “865” shirts and the retro concert posters. I’ve got my eye on a V-Roys poster in particular. Urban Woman was quite taken with the Ipad covers.

Nothing Too Fancy, Knoxville, September 2012
Ipad Covers at Nothing Too Fancy, Knoxville, September 2012

Tupelo Honey placed a sign in front of 1 Market Square committing to an opening the first week in October. Work seems to have picked up pace inside, finally, but I walked by this weekend to see one worker sleeping and another texting. I’m sure it was break time. They’d probably been working hours before I made it past the store.

Across the street, the Arnstein Building is back in the news with a brand new $250,000 grant from the city. I’m struggling with this one. Our current city government is my favorite local, state or federal government ever. I think virtually all of our current administration and council are smart, good people with the best interests of our city at heart. That said, I would love to hear a discussion (and I probably should have been at the council meeting to hear it) of why this is a good thing. The project already received a large grant from CBID and now this grant is given to ensure that Urban Outfitters will come to Knoxville. The planned opening is next Spring.

Arnstein Building, Union and Market, Knoxville, September 2012

I’ve heard reasonable questions asked about how necessary this latest grant is for a very successful developer and a large national chain store. It would be great for someone to explain why a business has to have this kind of support to enter the downtown market. Are they not going to make a profit otherwise? If that’s the case, are we building an illusion? It seems reasonable to wonder.

Still underway on Gay Street is the renovation of the JC Penney Building. I’m hearing a religious apparel company may be using the first floor for retail and the second floor for offices, but that’s just a rumor, so who knows? Remember when we were getting twenty-eleven Beauty Institutes and a mattress store at 2 Market Square? You have to enjoy the ride, though. On balance the journey seems to be taking the city to good places. Here’s to seeing it continue.