An Inside View of Tailor Lofts – A Year Later, Plus Five Bar Restaurant Preview

Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

It just over a year ago – in early January – that I took you inside Tailor Lofts, the former Arby’s Building at 430 South Gay. If you don’t remember what the place looked like, you might want to go back and read it now. What we found inside at that time were the remnants of the Arby’s franchise and floors of space that had not been used in decades. Daniel Odle made the bold claim that the building would be ready in the spring of 2014. So, how is it coming?

Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

First Floor, Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

First Floor, Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

First Floor, Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

First Floor, Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

He recently offered me the chance to come inside and see for myself. It turns out the schedule remains the same. The plans include having the entire space ready in June of this year which is pushing the spring prediction, but it’s pretty good. The spaces have changed from the dust-covered abandoned look they had at the time into a serious construction zone in which most of the structural work has been completed and other internal work is underway.

Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Future Restaurant Space, Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Future Restaurant Space, Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Future Restaurant Space, Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

That’s not to say it’s close to looking like a finished product. As you can see from the photographs, there’s a massive hole where a large portion of the roof used to be. There is an empty cavity through the center of the building where the elevator will be. Some walls are in place in the form of studs only and other walls are not placed, just yet.

Still, it was easier to visualize the layouts of the various units of which there will be nine total. Eight will be available for lease and the prices will range widely. While nothing is set in stone, the likely lower end will be somewhere around $1000 for a small first floor unit. I didn’t get inside the first floor when I visited before and I have to say they’ve developed some clever designs to capture light for each of the units. The upper end of the range would come in the form of a third floor, two-bedroom condo with excellent views of Gay Street and amazing windows all around. That should go for somewhere north of $2200.

Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Exposed Center of the Building, Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Exposed Center of the Building, Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Exposed Center of the Building, Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Exposed Center of the Building, Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Skyview through the Center of the Building, Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

The ground floor will, as has been reported by Josh Flory in Property Scope, be a restaurant called Five Bar. Currently located in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Athens and Gainesville (opens Thursday), Knoxville will be their fifth location. The company does not franchise their restaurants, so each are operated by the original owners. They also locally source their food as much as possible.

Their approach is to have five different entrees available each night along with five red wines and five white wines. On the current menu from the Athens location they also have five appetizers, five national beers and five “southern” beers and five cocktails. The five entrees range widely in type, unlike restaurants which focus on one kind of food, such as seafood or Italian food. Prices range from $13 for a cheeseburger to $28 for a ribeye.

Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Front Side of Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Daniel Odle inside Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Daniel Odle inside Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Front Side of Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

The restaurant also apparently emphasizes community involvement and is different in several ways. First, a percentage of each salary (beyond the salary, not out of it) is given to a charity of the employee’s choosing. Each employee is provided health insurance. They also are directly involved in unique ways to offer free food to those who need it. It sounds like a good group of people.

Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Center Unit, Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Center Unit View from Loft, Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Center Unit, Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Like the apartments, the hope is that the restaurant will be open in June. The target is June 1 and everyone involved seems to be pulling for an even earlier opening date. There’s a lot to be done as a quick viewing of these pictures reveals. Given that the target date hasn’t really been moved a year into the year-and-a-half project, there seems room for optimism.

Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Tailor Lofts, 430 South Gay Street, Knoxville, January 2014

Comments

  1. Rick Johnson says

    Hey Mr. Urban Guy?…..Like your articles !!!! My Dad was a Manager at Spence Shoe Co. In the 70’s and 80’s and early 90’s on that corner !!!! I grew up in and around that Building !! We used to watch the Christmas Parade on ladders in front of the store !! Have been downtown all my days……also I’m the guy with the big Photo (6×12) of Gay street in 39 !!! Want to to come over and see it sometime…..Am at Riverside Condos….Keep the Good Stuff coming !! ……Rick Johnson…..3352830

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      Hey Rick, Thanks. I’m glad you found the article about the building where you grew up. Most people can’t say they go that far back in downtown. I’d love to see that photograph.

  2. Good to see this moving along. Perhaps it’s just me, but the rates for these apartments seem a bit on the pricey side? I’m all for the rebirth of downtown, and have watched it as it happened. At the same time, how long until the market will no longer bear these exorbitant prices? Don’t get me wrong, I find downtown Knoxville a cool place and all, but $2200.00 a month buys of house. Granted a lot of renovation dollars go into these buildings, but the inflation rate seems a bit out of place.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      The rates are high. Ultimately the market will decide, right? It is pretty premium to have massive windows, a great view of Gay Street and a restaurant with a range of menu choices inside your building.

  3. neill townsend says

    I had dinner this past weekend at Five in Tuscalooa. Knoxville is in for a real treat. Hurry up June!

    • Flossie McNabb says

      Hi Neill, your Aunt Marg always pointed out the Slomsky Tailor window but I can’t remember the story she told with it. Do you know the connection with your family? I would love to know.

  4. Construction photos are cool.

    I’m a bit surprised they’re adding an elevator. New 3-story apartment complexes usually don’t bother.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      Well, it’s actually four stories on the back side, for starters, given the slope of the hill. They are calling the Gay Street Level the second floor. Also, the primary entrance for residents will be off Union, meaning three floors are above you. With moving in furniture and belongings, it would be tough to not have an elevator. Also, I assumed they had no choice given the renovations: ADA would require it. I could be wrong about that part.

  5. Do you know if they’re going to leave the old lettering on the window that reads “Slomski Tailor”? That would be a neat touch.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      The Slomski Tailor will remain. The last I heard, the debate was regarding whether to restore the messed up parts or leave it as it is.

  6. Really glad that building won’t be empty for much longer. Thanks for the construction shots.

    But this: “They also locally source their food as much as possible.”

    Five Bar isn’t alone in saying this, but I really wish everyone would stop reporting it when restaurants say it. “As much as possible” is meaningless. (McDonald’s locally sources its food as much as possible, too.) There’s nothing wrong with advertising what food is locally sourced, but “as much as possible” is, at best, uninformative and, at worst, dishonest.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      I hear you. It is a trendy thing to say – but the “as much as possible” phrase was mine, not theirs. I guess I’m a little skeptical when anyone says it is locally sourced with no qualifiers. I mean where are you getting the local shrimp, for example?

  7. Sandy Gammon says

    I used Mr. Slomski’s services on a regular basis back in the mid-late 80s. I was always fascinated by his shop. First there was the climb up a narrow, creaky stairwell to get there. His shop was filled with stuff – clothing, mannequins, fabric, various contraptions. He was a quiet, foreboding sort of fellow. Always excellent work!

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      That sounds like a great setting and character for a short story.

      • Sandy Gammon says

        Indeed! Mr. Slomski had a very sophisticated air about him. His assistant (if my memory serves me correctly) was a friendly African American man. They made an interesting business pair. The loft space was sort of surreal.

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