Coffee and Chocolate Set to Open a Second Downtown Location

CoffeeandChocolate, Union Street, Knoxville, August 2010

CoffeeandChocolate, Union Street, Knoxville, August 2010

It didn’t take long for interest to emerge in 416 W. Clinch Avenue. As I noted last week, Le Parigo, which changed to icafe at the beginning of the year, had officially closed. Cedric, the long-term chef and owner moved to France according to a reader commenting on that post. One of the reasons I lamented the closing of the restaurant was the fact that, though only a block and a half from Market Square, it extended the footprint of our dining and entertainment area downtown.

Well, apparently, that reduction in footprint didn’t last long. I hope to have more information later in the week, but, as another very helpful reader pointed out to me in an email this weekend, a beer permit sign was posted sometime in the last few days indicating that Coffee and Chocolate would like to sell beer at the location.

427 Clinch Avenue, Knoxville, February 2013

427 Clinch Avenue, Knoxville, February 2013

So far, I’ve gotten confirmation from Sharif Harb, owner of Coffee and Chocolate, that this is intended to be a second location of Coffee and Chocolate, but with some significant differences. I mentioned the fact that beer sales are being requested. Mr. Harb also indicated wine and extended food offerings would likely be incorporated in this second location of Coffee and Chocolate. The hope is for a May or June opening.

I’m excited to see people who have been doing business downtown for a long time begin expanding their endeavors. Just as Nancy Solomon opened Rala after a successful run at Reruns and the Wests continue to add new ventures, Sharif and the others would double-down on their investment are making a statement about their faith in downtown business prospects.

Coffee and Chocolate Beer Permit, 416 Clinch Avenue, Knoxville, March 2013

Coffee and Chocolate Beer Permit, 416 Clinch Avenue, Knoxville, March 2013

I do wonder about locations off Market Square and Gay Street in one respect: many of them form a small island around which nothing can easily be opened to create a shared energy or new attractive district. I wonder if this was part of the problem at Le Parigo. To one side is the YWCA, which can’t be developed. A design company sits on the other side. There is one vacant property two doors down which is being offered by Conversion Properties and that might add to the mix.

Other than that, there is nothing. A massive parking lot sits across the road, no doubt sitting where once fabulous buildings used to reside. It would be nice to have the possibility those buildings would’ve offered. Banks loom on the corners of Clinch and Market, though one of them has the Lunchbox restaurant on the ground level.

Enjoying the Warm Weather on the Preservation Pub Rooftop, Knoxville, March 2013

Enjoying the Warm Weather on the Preservation Pub Rooftop, Knoxville, March 2013

Meanwhile, with the first tiny burst of warm weather, Market Square was packed out. I’m feeling this spring will see crowds routinely filling the streets of downtown in numbers we’ve not seen in decades. With Urban Outfitters and the Williamsburg Peanut Shop set to open and other ventures on the way, it may just finally explode. As a result, Market Square may become “so crowded nobody ever goes there anymore,” and you may just find me enjoying the second location of Coffee and Chocolate a block and a half away.


  1. This is a really great idea. There is a wonderful chocolate lounge in Asheville called the French Broad Chocolate Lounge that combines wine, live music, late nights, chocolate, and coffee in the evening (and during the day too). I’ve been numerous times where the line goes out the door. But I’ve always been impressed with it and the ability to have a relaxing place to go and get desert while listening to live music. I am looking forward to it.

  2. Dang it, man! Coffee and Chocolate has apparently gotten the drop on my Pie and Whiskey idea! We’ll meet again, C+C.

  3. Hello Urbanites,
    We assume as business owners ourselves that Sharif Harb saw that extremely recently renovated cafe space and couldn’t pass it up. The odds of success on a restaurant are dramatically increased when someone else has already paid for the bar, kitchen and dining room.

    By the way, thanks for the Pres Pub Moonshine Roof Garden pic! Come back this weekend and we’ll have all the greenery back out from the greenhouse behind the Magic Beer Tree to the roof patio. It’s be magical up there, promise. Also, we’ll have a copper bar in place on the roof for our Saturday St Paddy’s on Market Square festivities.

    Good luck Coffee and Chocolate!

  4. Good Post Urban Guy! I agree with all comments about Home Federal and the Sprankle Bldg. That Demolition Permit eight years ago, I doubt would pass today at least I hope not.

  5. I think this is great news. Certainly C&C has a lot of fans, and I have no doubt they could fill that space (and beer and wine and more food? I won’t complain about that!) probably better than a new business. It seems a little strange that they’d operate two locations in such close proximity, but I guess if the LeParigo site is significantly different they can make it work.

  6. John in Knoxville says

    UG, thanks for the info. I knew Cedric and I am sorry to see him leave for the old country. He offered one of the rare opportunities I had to practice my French in Knoxville. Anyway, about the block across the street, it was one of the most fabulous in town at one point in time. My first substantive blog post covered it in depth. see here:

    • Art Wagner says

      Oops, sorry for not mentioning your article. It really is great information on the Vendome, a structure I would have loved to have seen.

  7. Art Wagner says

    I, too, was walking by and saw the beer application notice on the door of 416 Clinch. Not a day earlier, I had a conversation with someone in C&C about how they needed more space. I guess I should have read more into the barista’s sly smile.

    As far as 416 Clinch goes, the Vendome Apartment Hotel was across the street. The story of that fabulous structure reminds me somehow of the novel “Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer by Steven Millhauser.” The Vendome is long gone, torn down in the early 1940s. (Read Jack Neely’s story in Metro Pulse from 2010) What’s rather fresh in the mind is the empty lot there, now stretching to Union, thanks to, and owned by, Home Federal Bank. That bank likes to call itself “Your Hometown Bank,” but apparently it doesn’t think enough of its hometown to make good on its promises. Of course, the bank’s executives now have a extremely convenient surface parking lot for themselves. I guess “hometown” wasn’t as important as it was cracked up to be.

  8. Mary Holbrook says

    The one-way of Clinch Avenue – read the great new book, Urban Walkability – might also have contributed to the problems with Le Parigo. How right you are that there were fantastic buildings where that parking lot now resides. One, the Sprankle Building, home to Pete’s and Reruns, was taken down by Home Federal who at the same time showcased their design (terrible, actually) for the new building that would soon rise on that spot. Hasn’t happened in, what, eight years? Of course Home Federal said the Sprankle Building wasn’t worth renovating. Aren’t we all delighted that the owners of the Holston, the Arnstein, and the Penney’s buildings didn’t take the same attitude?

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      Thanks, Mary. I’m particularly glad the owners of the Daylight and Pembroke (back in its day) didn’t decide to tear down. Kendrick Place could just as easily be gone and that would be a tragedy. I’d love to borrow that book, btw.

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