Shonos in City Re-Opens on Market Square

Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

One of Market Square’s oldest restaurants is about to become its newest. Shonos in City, closed a couple of months ago to undergo a transformation, is opening today on Market Square with a whole new look. Gone is the tired look it had settled in to. With its renovations and upgrades it now presents a sophisticated, modern atmosphere, with nods to the traditional.

Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

From the tiled wall beside the front door and the comfortable seating beside large front windows, all the way to the back with its wall of bamboo playing off the old brick of the building, it has retained its comfortable warmth which moving to what owner Willy Rosenberg termed a “more classy” appearance.

Owner Willy Rosenberg, Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

Owner Willy Rosenberg, Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

The restaurant is nearly ten years old which, as I pointed out earlier this week in my post about Bliss, is an eternity on Market Square, though I’m hoping longevity will become more of a norm with the resurgence of downtown. Willy says there is very little secret about being successful in the restaurant business. “Sell good food at a good price,” and you are off to a good start, he told me.

Sushi Menu, Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

Sushi Menu, Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

Dinner Menu, Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

Dinner Menu, Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

 

He also let me know that the business is a family run enterprise starting with his father who, at ninety-two years of age works a couple of mornings a week preparing food. Willy and his son also cook and it was their labor that got “ninety percent” of the work done in renovating the restaurant. He said he finally got tired of contractors not getting the business done and decided he and his son could do it themselves.

Decor in Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

Decor in Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

Decor in Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

Decor in Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

They did a beautiful job, though he was quick to credit his wife with the choices in decor. It really is a beautiful space with its lofty ceilings and blend of brick, wood and bamboo throughout. I’d have a hard time choosing between the seating at the front with a view of the square, the outdoor seating or the coziness of the back room.

Backroom at Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

Backroom at Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

Backroom at Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

Backroom at Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

The food remains largely unchanged from before the construction. Willy said the core of the menu has remained the same while changes have been made around the edges. I’ve left the menu photographs a bit larger so you can click the photograph and see it large enough to read. The prices remained low which is something about which he seems to be proud as he wants to give diners a choice when they consider more expensive restaurants. There is not only a sushi menu, but also a hibachi menu, so if you like it cooked or not-so-much, you are going to be happy either way. I also caught sight of a chocolate concoction that is served engulfed in flames.

Volcanic Chocolate, Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

Volcanic Chocolate, Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

Happily, it turns out I knew a couple of the members of the staff. First, Jayne McGowan who co-ordinates (along with SJ) the Artist Alley work is a hostess. Without Jayne’s text last night, you would not be reading this post. She tipped me off that the re-0pening would be today and she convinced Willy to let me crash their training night to take pictures and otherwise make myself a minor annoyance. It will be good to see her friendly face at the door. Also, Chef Karen Crumley, a graduate of UT’s Culinary program and former Sushi Chef at Nama will be one of the chefs. She is also employed by Avanti Savoia which is where you may know her from if you observed any of their cooking demonstrations in the Culinary Tent at the Market Square Art Market a couple of weeks ago.

 Hibachi Grill, Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013


Hibachi Grill, Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

As for beverages, they have a selection of wines as well as PBR, Yuengling and Fat Tire beer on tap. They also have saki, which is rice wine, after all. Willy says they now have one of the very best, if not the best, saki bars in east Tennessee. He has added high-end saki due to requests he has received. The top end is $50 a bottle and only sold as a bottle.

The Good Luck Monkey at Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

The Good Luck Monkey at Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

Some of the charm of the old place has been retained in the form of the “Good Luck Monkey” which you can see in a couple of these photographs. It comes with a story, having been brought to the restaurant numerous times by a group of men who came to watch the UT games on the big screen television out front. When the group disbanded they gave the monkey to Willie for good luck. It seems to be working.

Menus and Aprons, Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

Menus and Aprons, Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

Decor in Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

Decor in Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

 

Front Seating Area, Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

Front Seating Area, Shonos in City, Market Square, Knoxville, April 2013

So, there you have it, a home-grown business doing things the right way and taking a pause to make things even better. If you like that kind of thing, you need to support the people who try to make it happen. So, why not go there this weekend or as soon as you are able? Tell Willy I sent you, so he won’t feel he wasted his time with that annoying guy. And look for me. I plan to eat there this weekend, myself.

Comments

  1. Looked popular when I walked by Friday night.

  2. As another person who reinvests, I understand the sacrifice! I’m glad they finally did this, as it was badly needed for them to survive around their neighbors. I’ll come check it out soon!

  3. Can’t wait to check it out!

  4. An old favorite, and one of the best restaurants on the Square IMO, glad to see them back open. I hope they left Eddie’s Special on the menu! I believe this menu item was named when they were connected with the West Knoxville one, because it disappeared from the menu for a short time. I’m pretty sure it was put back on the menu because everyone kept asking for it, including me. Judging from the pictures it appears they did and outstanding remodel, everything looks great!

  5. John in Knoxville says

    *noticed (is this typo thing contagious?)

  6. John in Knoxville says

    Here I pride myself on being observant and I had never notice that it was just “in city.” Wow! Thanks for the heads up. This is one of my favorite lunch spots, so I am glad to be able to return soon.

  7. I’ve always read that as Shonos in THE City until staring at the picture it was very obviously just Shonos in City. So I thought, “Oh, native Asian language speakers usually have trouble with the English articles”. Then, owner “Willie Rosenberg.” I’m curious now about the origin of the name. Anyway, a couple of typos: “re-0pening” and “Flat Tire”, just fyi.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      Hey Matt,
      Thanks for the corrections. I always appreciate a little gentle editing from my readers. I’m often just getting the post finished sometime around midnight and editing isn’t my best skill at that hour. I also fixed your typo, so no one will ever know! As for the name, my brain always added “the” in there, as well. I have written it that way on the blog, also. The “in city” portion is to distinguish it from the west Knoxville restaurant, which has a different owner. I think Willy implied they were once connected, but that’s no longer so. As for the missing article, I didn’t ask, but I’m curious as well.

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