Final Chapter: Just Ripe Closes (And One Additional Business)

Just Ripe, 513 Union Avenue, Knoxville, October 2015
Just Ripe, 513 Union Avenue, Knoxville, October 2015

The “final chapter” caption might seem a little melodramatic, but I really do feel I’ve documented this little storefront at 513 Union Avenue more intensely than anything else I’ve written about. In January of 2011 I told you about their pre-opening fundraiser, their opening in May 2011, their half-birthday in December 2011, their reorganization, their subsequent near closure and their purchase by Century Harvest Farms. Just last October I wrote about their latest re-organization.

Now the long and winding journey seems to be at an end. Last week, parent company Century Harvest Farms informed employees the store would close. Personal belongings and most of the food had been removed by yesterday and I was able to speak to both Chris Burger and Amber Busby about the closure.

Chris Burger, whose family owns Century Farms said the store, “just didn’t have enough scale and volume on the product offered.” Whereas store manager Amber Busby felt the store was moving in the right direction, Chris stated the store had not become profitable and they felt it was time to go in a different direction.

Century Harvest will not be opening a new store in the space, however, but would work cooperatively with anyone who might like to do so there. Their lease is still in effect and they have coolers, point-of-sale systems, accounting systems and a large commercial kitchen which could be used to support another food business there. Of course they would also have their product line to offer to any new store owner.

Chris said he would be happy to speak to anyone regarding a possible working relationship regarding the space. While he would love to see a new “food entrepreneur” at that address, since Century Harvest is very invested in making the connection between farms and consumers. He said he’d be willing to talk to anyone honestly about the challenges they faced and what he sees as the potential. (

The other possibility is that the coolers and other systems are sold to make way for an entirely different business (contact Chris if you are interested in those). The lease being a complicating factor, any new business will have to go through Dewhirst Properties (971-3137). A business that requires extensive food preparation will likely need an off-site kitchen. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a food-related business, at all.

In any case, the store has ceased to operate just one month shy of marking its fifth year of operation. Perhaps it will make way for something exciting for downtown that is also more economically feasible. As for Amber Busby, she’s excited to be moving into some new ventures she hasn’t had time to pursue while operating the store, though she says her plans definitely involve remaining in a food-related business of some fashion. Expect to hear more from her in coming months.

Hot Horse, 108 E. Jackson Ave., Knoxville, June 2015
Hot Horse, 108 E. Jackson Ave., Knoxville, June 2015

Additionally, I have another business closure which I don’t think I’ve mentioned: Hot Horse Records has closed at 108 E. Jackson in the Old City. The announcement was posted to their Facebook page late last month, simply stating, “we have lost our lease due to construction and will be forced to close until we find a new location.” Hopefully they will re-emerge elsewhere. Enormous changes are taking place and will continue for quite a long time in the Old City.

Hot Horse Records was not a place I frequented often, but I feel it leaves another retail hole in downtown, though not as immediately obvious perhaps as the loss of what was once a small specialty grocery store. Specifically, musicians – of which we have some in residence and thousands who pass through each year – are now unable to get supplies when working downtown. No guitar picks or strings, no drum sticks and certainly, no instruments. It’s a gap I hope isn’t permanent.