Merchants of Beer Slated to Open This Fall in Old Diner

First Rendering

We’d all be doing pretty well if we had as many lives as the diner located at the corner of Summit Hill and Central. The property and the structure are owned by Hatcher-Hill and have been offered for sale. While Hatcher-Hill will retain ownership of the property, a new business co-owned by Henry Sadek and Bobby McCarter will occupy the fifties-style diner. Called “Merchants of Beer,” the new business will offer craft beer on tap, will feature a humidor and high-end bar food.

Enterprise Car Rental, Summit Hill and Central, Knoxville, October 2015
The Diner: Former Home to Enterprise Car Rental

Construction will begin as soon as permitting allows, which the group hopes will be in the next few weeks. The group hopes for a September opening if all goes well. Current plans call for as many as 23 taps at a 24 foot bar. They will also have a grab-and-go case available for take-out. A beer garden is in the plans, though details of that have yet-to-be approved.

Fourth Rendering

Third Rendering

The most notable changes will be to the exterior where the diner’s appearance will be freshened up a bit. The green panels currently lining the bottom of the diner will give way to metal panels which match the upper portions of the exterior. A canopy which will include and support two signs will be added. Contrary to the plans shown here, Meghan Frederick, Designer at Studio Four, says the end of the diner will have one door instead of the two shown in the renderings. There are currently two windows on that end.

She also clarified that the channel letters will be lighted with LED lights, not neon as would have been the case in the diner’s original era. A vertical garden will be added to one end along the back portion of the building and while, the current approval process does not include details for outdoor/patio seating in the front and a beer garden to the rear, these will be components of the final business and applications will be filed later for those portions.

If the current design drawings for the parking lot remain the same, the new business will utilize much of the currently available parking, but design changes will make it less aesthetically offensive. The preliminary plans show vegetation and other landscaping serving as a buffer between the sidewalks on Central and Summit Hill and the parking lots.

Second Rendering

So, the diner returns to food-service and remains onsite as “Merchants of Beer.” It will be significantly more attractive and the corner entering the Old City will be enlivened a large portion of the afternoon and evening. It also provides a pedestrian-attractive business in the space between uptown and the Old City. Summit Hill gains a business which will attract activity.

Yes, I’d like to see a four or five story building fill that corner and connect the two parts of downtown a little better. I’d also like to see Summit Hill reduced drastically in scope making a business like this one more attractive by traffic calming. But this is an improvement over a rental car lot. Considering the fact that we retained Enterprise, but moved them into a garage and we’ve added a pedestrian-friendly and more visually appealing business to the entry to the Old City, this feels pretty good turn of events for the short-range.

Programming Note: As I’ve said, I’m trying to take a few days off each week for the summer, so since I’ve not done so well to this point this week, I’ll take tomorrow and Saturday off and send out your weekly “Ten Day Planner” on Sunday. Have a great weekend and say “hello,” at Pridefest.