The French Market, 412 Clinch Avenue, Knoxville, April 2017
Been missing your crepes? Jonesing for your chocolate croissants? You may now breathe a little easier: The French Market Crêperie is open for business as of 9:00 AM this morning. You’ll find the same great menu you remember from their previous location on Gay Street, you’ll see familiar faces and you’ll see quite a few changes. Melissa and Evie will still greet you and, if you come in the evening, you’ll meet new night and online service manager Joseph Fowler, joining the French Market from the same position with the Orangery. About two thirds of the staff remained while some moved on to other things.
Those who visited the previous location will immediately feel the difference in size. With 92 seats allowed inside, the new restaurant is much larger than the last. Two stories tall with mezzanine seating for overflow or special events and 20 feet plus ceilings in the front half, it feels even larger than it is. The new kitchen is as large as the previous restaurant. Christopoulos and Kennedy did the build-out which included a $20,000 sprinkler system and a 1500 gallon grease interceptor installed in the basement.
Upon ordering your favorite confection, you’ll notice the plasticware is gone and silverware has taken its place. This is made possible by the large, new dish washer in the rear. The previous location didn’t have much of a place to wash dishes, let alone a dishwasher. Paper plates will soon be replaced by actual dinner plates which have been ordered and should arrive very soon.
You’ll also notice the line moves much more quickly and your order time is significantly reduced. With expanded room in the kitchen, multiple griddles will be in use with two cooks instead of the one used before. The counter space and kitchen has been designed to precisely mirror the Farragut location, giving employees the advantage of having worked in that well designed space which allows them to work quickly and efficiently.
You’ll also notice French beers and wines on the menu, including house wine on tap. Bottles have been selected carefully for quality and no bottle should be more than $50. Like the Farragut location, Thursday nights will likely feature half-price bottles. Specialty cocktails will soon be introduced, as well as a Friday happy hour. Also new, a line of French sodas and Matcha, an iced green tea drink and other unusual and interesting non-alcoholic drinks. You’ll still find their excellent LavAzza coffee (I had an excellent espresso while we chatted).
While not offered initially, you’ll soon be able to order beignets, thanks to the addition of deep fat friers in the kitchen. The beignets will be deep fried in butter, not lard. Also thanks to the deep fat friers, frites will be offered – the truly French version of french fries, served with an option of several sauces. A baker is also set to report in May and will expand their offerings and quantity of baked goods offered. They will be serving up gluten-free breads and specialty French meringues. They will continue to make quiche, croissants and their gluten-free, flourless chocolate cake.
You’ll recognize the tables and chairs, though there are many more of them. Increased window seating at the bar is available (with a special seat saved for steady customer Chase Hughes!) and some cushioned seating is available near the counter. With a massive chandelier in the front, smaller ones eslewhere and ornate sconces on the wall, the place feels just a bit more elegant. The decor is similar to the previous location, but with the increased space, feels even more attractive and less cramped. The tin tiles above the service counter and nearby seating are also beautiful and patterned after a New York City restaurant favored by owners Alan and Susan Tate.
Outdoor seating should soon be available. An awning has been approved and is under construction. A deck will be placed on the sidewalk to make it level – much as Kaizen has done just a couple of doors down. The street already feels different with the two restaurants located on either side of Studio Four Design, which developed the plans for the new restaurant.
Susan Tate said they are very happy to be in the new location and really like the way it feels. She says they have been surprised to see how active the street already is and anticipate even more foot traffic to come. All they need now is you. Drop in and say, “hello.” Initial hours will be Sunday and Monday, 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM, Tuesday – Thursday, 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM and 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM Friday and Saturday.
For the weekend, I’ll hope to see you out for the Rossini Festival as the city gets crazy full between that and the Orange and White Game. It may be a good day to ride a bike, take a bus or carpool downtown as parking may be tight. On Sunday I’ll be joined by Charlotte Tolley of Nourish Knoxville and the Market Square Farmers’ Market on the radio on WUTK, 90.3 FM at 10:00 AM. It’s live streamed from http://www.wutkradio.com. Sunday afternoon you’ll find me at the wonderful Fourth and Gill Tour of Homes. Have fun out there!