Bar Marley! Bar Marley. Bar Marley? Bar Marley . . .

Bar Marley, 760 Stone Street NW, Knoxville, August 2014

Bar Marley, 760 Stone Street NW, Knoxville, August 2014

It’s been a long and winding road for Bar Marley. And they haven’t even opened. It’s become an interesting guessing game on the part of many observers. It seems certain, then it seems certainly not. I’ll do my best to untangle the story and give you the twists, turns and opposing view points.

I first reported that Bar Marley would open in September. Given that my report was published on September 2 and the grand opening was set for three weeks later, I got some skepticism mixed in with the excitement from readers. A number of people asked, “Can he really open in three weeks?” It was hard to believe given the distance the space had to go. At that point old vehicles were parked inside the restaurant. I responded that I didn’t know, but that Caleb Boyers had certainly patiently executed his plan for a long time, so I wouldn’t be the one to say he couldn’t do it.

Bar Marley Grand Opening Party, Knoxville, September 2014

Bar Marley Grand Opening Party, Knoxville, September 2014

Bar Marley Grand Opening Party, Knoxville, September 2014

Bar Marley Grand Opening Party, Knoxville, September 2014

But I was curious, myself. In my interview I asked Caleb several ways and was assured that everything was “turn key” ready. It turned out some things weren’t so “turn key.” The restrooms had to be re-built, which I assume was to be ADA compliant. Other delays presented themselves and when I reported on the opening night, it was to say they threw a party. The party didn’t include Jamaican food or tropical drinks. Still, they did throw a party and assured everyone that the delays would not be long. They clearly had made progress and I figured they would open eventually and sort of forgot about it.

Then Metro Pulse ran an article last week with the skeptical, but hopeful, title, “Bar Marley May Be Opening Next Week.” While a bit of skepticism came through, simply because of all the details that remained to be attended to, Dennis Perkins acknowledged owner Caleb Boyer’s “steely resolve.” That was so Wednesday.

By Friday, Cari Wade Gervin wrote on the Metro Pulse blog an article with the less optimistic, more direct title, “Bar Marley is Not Opening Next Week – If At All.” In the article she points out that unfinished touches are not the primary problem, but rather, “Bar Marley is sitting right on top of a unremediated hazardous site, and Boyers has done nothing about it.” She noted that at best it would take weeks to get the proper testing and clearances. So, it’s clearly not opening, right?

Well, the next twist was that Caleb Boyers posted the video you see here to his Bar Marley FB page. Ironically titled, “Tragic News,” he calmly and somewhat humorously refutes the statement that he’s done nothing to get environmental clearance, stating that “phase two environmental testing is underway.” He refers to people trying to “bash” Bar Marley and ends with an assurance the bar will, indeed, open soon.

I reached out to Caleb for a comment on the most recent article from Metro Pulse online and he said he, “would rather not sink the conversation to a squabble about technical housekeeping.” So, the video stands as his statement, and you’ll have to guess what happens next. For my part, I’ve given you the facts, but on a personal level, I hope very much that the technical issues can be worked out and that Bar Marley opens and does well.

Why? Well, not because I particularly need a Jamaican bar in my life, though it might be fun. No, it’s more because I like it when people dream and I enjoy seeing their dreams become reality. Sometimes dreams don’t happen and sometimes the dreams weren’t realistic in the first place, and I know that. Still, I wouldn’t wish that pain on anyone. I’ll be sad for Caleb if it doesn’t work out, so, here’s wishing him the best. Stay tuned.


  1. what’s the big deal why are people so worried about when it will open? It takes time and big deal he had a goal to open in 3 weeks but obviously ran into some problems that is taking more time. It will open when its ready. And i’m assuming it will be worth the wait, sounds different than anything we have currently which is great.

  2. Bar Marley will not be opening until TDEC okays it. Period. That is an actual fact.

    The “Phase II” testing Boyers mentions was completed this summer as part of an EPA grant the city has had for three years. He did not initiate it. (See this week’s MP for more.)

    The levels of contaminants are not minute – if they were, the property wouldn’t have been on the state superfund list for 20 years running. Both the city and TDEC want to help Boyers finds way to clean up the site, but until there’s additional testing, no one even knows what that clean up would entail. Thus, the city is not going to issue a certificate of occupancy until Boyers has addressed the environmental concerns. This was confirmed to me again yesterday. And without a CoO, Bar Marley cannot legally open. Period.

    Boyers can post all the videos he wants and accuse us of trying to “bash” him and take him down all he wants, but MP is just reporting the plain and simple facts. It has nothing to do with him personally. This is not about us being haters. This is about actual facts.

    Oh, and it’s ny understanding that the only reason the city owns the rest of the Sanitary Laundry properties is because Boyers couldn’t afford to pay the liens that were on the property from the partial clean up that has happened on the site. Fwiw.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.