This is an article I’ve hoped to write for a long time. Over the last year it has seemed improbable. It started, for me, a year ago September when I wrote about the pending opening of the bar. Metro Pulse followed with their own article, which was shortly followed by another article (I don’t know why this link survives when others do not) saying it would not open any time soon due to environmental issues. The tone of that article elicited some blow back from owner Caleb Boyers and a counter punch or two, which I discussed in a follow up article. Got all that? Then everything went quiet.
It didn’t stop there, of course. Much has happened since, but it’s been quiet. I’ve continued to be asked about it over the months. My response was always the same – that I hoped it would one day work, simply because I feel Caleb is a person with good intentions regarding the project and I like to see good guys win.
Recently I noticed new entries on the Bar Marley FB page which seemed to intimate an opening might be coming soon, so I contacted Caleb and we met to talk about the last year, what’s happened with the bar and what to expect next. He admitted to being gun shy about publicity given the way things turned out a year ago and I admitted being gun shy about publishing yet another opening date. Still he tells me the health department approval is posted, I checked with the city and learned that he was awarded a certificate of occupancy as of October 5.
He says he’s embraced the journey and considers it a positive that it has built anticipation and curiosity. It’s as if, in his mind, we’ve all been party to the struggle. And now we can, well, party. He’s even more proud that he’s seen his unique concept take shape on a site filled with issues. He isn’t bitter about any of it, though he would have liked for it to be easier. He acknowledges communication has been an issue between himself, engineers, city and state officials and lawyers.
In the intervening year, improvements have been made to the property, including a new HVAC system and Caleb has experimented with recipes for the menu. The big issue, however, was always the environmental remediation required for the site. Once a laundry business, chemicals from that process had seeped into the soil. The state has now cleared the site and declared it safe for a restaurant. He’s gone beyond the remediation they required, wanting the area to be more than safe, but rather clean.
The property has been repeatedly tested. He paid for tests, then the state completed tests and all were clear. It’s been a multi-stage process and that’s what’s eaten up most of the last year. They require venting on all such sites and he’s done that, but he’s also added a soil aggregate filtration system designed by Shield Engineering to remediate even the chemicals buried deep in the soil.
And so, the first step will be an “invitation only” party on October 21, the date to which Marty McFly (in Back to the Future II) traveled forward thirty years. The party will be themed accordingly, with KTM playing 80’s hits (from the era of the movie) and other touches related to the movie will abound. Costumes are encouraged. Light food will be served from the menu, but the full menu will not be available. He’s got his liquor license, so a full bar will be available – but the beer license should come the following week (10/27).
The official opening day will be October 31 and he plans to be open seven days a week from 10:00 AM to late. The menu will be Caribbean Fusion with a light lunch menu available and a full dinner menu. Cuban coffee will be available at all times, as will fresh fruit. (You’ll note banana trees growing over the bar.) Offerings will include vegan-friendly foods. You can find the full menu on the Bar Marley website. Do note that the full dinner menu is by reservation only.
He’s hired two bartenders, two managers and four servers and will likely hire more (contact him via the Bar Marley FB page if you are interested). Aquariums will be hung, a stage has been built, the wave pool works and he’s excited to get it going. He reminded me of the purpose of the entire project: preservation of coral reefs. All profits beyond costs and salaries will go toward the cause.
He characterizes the journey as a, “strange, emotional and educational experience.” And he’s inviting some of you to join in the next phase. The Back to the Future party will be by invitation and you can get your name on the guest list by 1) identifying yourself to him as someone who signed a shell at the previous party (the shells are on display over the bar) and being among the first to respond on the FB page.
Additionally, he’s offered twenty-five of you the chance to attend and bring a guest. I’ll give him the name of the first twenty-five of you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a subject heading “I Want to go Back to the Future with Bar Marley!” Please include your name in the body of the email, so I can pass it along. ED. NOTE: THESE SEATS HAVE BEEN CLAIMED! THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO RESPONDED!
So, do you believe? Do you doubt? Do you think it won’t happen again? I’ll be there October 21. I wouldn’t miss the next chapter in the fascinating saga.
One final word for today: Thank you for voting Inside of Knoxville as the “Top Blog” in the inaugural “Top Knox” contest in the Knoxville Mercury. I so greatly appreciate your continued support on this fun journey of our own.