Pearl on Union Set to Open This Fall

Shaun and Meg Parrish, Owners of Old City Java, Wild Love Bakehouse and Pearl on Union, Knoxville, June 2017

It’s been rumored around downtown for nearly a year while one of downtown’s best locations sat empty. Shaun and Meg Parrish are now prepared to make a big announcement: The owners of Old City Java and Wild Love Bakehouse plan to open Pearl on Union at 513 Union Avenue in the Daylight Building.

The Daylight Building on Union Avenue is one of downtown’s most successful buildings during the current renaissance. Opening in 2011 after sitting empty for years, the building was quickly filled with businesses in every storefront and residents in every apartment. When it converted to condos last year a feeding frenzy resulted.

513 Union Avenue, Knoxville, May 2017

Businesses have largely thrived. Union Avenue Books remains in its original location and continues to thrive. Two other businesses got successful starts in the building before moving to other locations. Wild Lavender opened nearly two years ago and recently added staff. Coldstream Market, after a successful beginning on Market Square in 2013, moved to the block a year-and-a-half ago. J.C. Holdway opened nearly a year ago to nothing but rave reviews.

513 Union Avenue in the building operated as Just Ripe from May 2011 to its closure April of last year. Several re-organizations and two different owners never quite found the right formula to make the shop profitable. It was filled almost immediately with the first incarnation of Cruze Farms Milk Bar, before falling silent after their planned departure. The space was still leased to Century Harvest Farms and much of the subsequent time has been consumed with shifting the lease agreement to Shaun and Meg.

The couple has long been interested in having a presence in the uptown section of the center city, while continuing to remain invested in their original Old City Java business and their newer Wild Love Bakehouse. The latter business, the opening of which they announced in September 2015 (this link includes much of the background on Old City Java and the couple) and officially opened three months later has been a huge success as exemplified by their recognition last January on as the best bakery in America.

They will now bring their special blend of excellent coffee and perfect baked goods to 513 Union under the name “Pearl on Union.” The business is named for Shaun’s great-grandmother and the couple is very excited about the location. They’ve loved it since its incarnation as Just Ripe and Shaun said, “I think it’s one of the prettiest spaces in Knoxville.”

The Daylight Building, 500 Block of Union Avenue, Knoxville, May 2017

Currently in the design phase, under the direction of Sanders Pace Architecture, they’ve already given considerable thought to the flow and arrangement of the new business. You can expect a new counter in place of the previous counter, bar seating at the window facing Union Avenue and built-in wall seating with tables along the left-hand side as you enter. They also plan to have outdoor seating, which they see as very important to the business. As they imagine it, it will have a smaller capacity than the other two businesses they operate, but the number of seats might be surprising.

Meg said they are menu-testing already, though they will have similar foods to those currently found at Wild Love Bakehouse. Emphasis will be on fresh-made, healthy grab-and-go food. Salads, sandwiches, wraps, soups and both breakfast and lunch foods will be available along with the full complement of pastries and baked goods that have made her reputation.

Shaun and Meg Parrish, Owners of Old City Java, Wildlove Bakehouse and Pearl on Union, Knoxville, June 2017

The two are also excited to join their neighbors in the Daylight Building and like the synergy of being located betweem a top-flight restaurant in J.C. Holdway and Knoxville’s independent bookstore, Union Avenue Books. Plans include opening each morning (seven days a week) at 7:00 AM and, while they will be open at least until 9:00 PM each night, they may extend evening hours to match those of J.C. Holdway. It might be a perfect spot for dessert and coffee after a good dinner and they’ll offer plated desserts at night to provide that option.

Expect the shop to open this fall as quickly as they are able to make the necessary changes and preparation required. You’ll find the familiar – the good food, Counter Culture coffee with all the coffee drinks and familiar faces inside a space many of us have appreciated over recent years. You’ll also find something fresh and new as the couple plans to make it unique as compared to their other businesses.


  1. Sabrina DeVault-Greene says

    I am so very excited about this! Congratulations, my friends!

  2. Welcome Shaun, Meg, and Pearl to the Daylight building on Union Ave, the best block in downtown Knoxville! We’re so excited about being next to Pearl on Union!

    • Keith Petelle says

      This is such great news! I can’t wait!! Congratulations to Shaun and Meg!! I’m sure this will be a success!

  3. Another Downtown Worker says

    This is so exciting! A good addition to downtown options; especially cool that they’re opening at 7:00 each day – not a ton of places do that downtown. Can’t wait!

  4. Marylawrence Woodhull says

    I love the name!

  5. Best news ever!!!

  6. Aaron Thompson says

    Good people! Look forward to visiting my new neighbors!

  7. Oren Yarbrough says

    When my family came to visit a few months ago we wanted to eat downtown before I had to go to work and my family drove back home to Middle TN. I had not realized until that morning that downtown is really lacking in this demographic unless you just want a simple pastry with your coffee. My family wound up eating at Pete’s and loved it very much, but having more options I only see as a plus for sure.

  8. Joseph Lenn says

    Congratulations Meg and Shaun! Looking forward to having you as neighbors.

  9. Solid writing and business plan.

  10. It’s my favourite little street in downtown Knoxville. Way to go.

  11. Jay Basile says


  12. Wow! Their success is greatly deserved. They are the hardest working and most lovable ccouple I have ever known!

  13. This is a no-brainer win-win for the entire DT community. I’ll be dropping in during my next visit. Congrats to Meg & Shaun.

  14. Awesome news! The best people and the best space!

  15. Everything they do is wonderful!

  16. Emma Marina says

    I really love their two other locations, but I often feel like I am inconveniencing the staff when I go into Wild Love. Something to consider in the new space: customer service goes a loooooooooong way with customer retention. Haven’t bothered to return to Wild Love in a month. Honeybee’s and K-Brew just make me feel more welcome. Food for thought. Wish you all the best and can’t wait to try it.

    • This isn’t Yelp. Sometimes retail/restaurant workers have bad days that are usually the result of them barely making enough money to make ends meet. Generally speaking, the nicer the customer is to the employee, the nicer the employee is back.

      • P.S. I enjoy many mornings at Wild Love waiting for Mid Mod to open up, and wish the owners the best with their new location.

      • Well in a job where they are “barely making enough money to make ends meet” it may not be wise to be rude, regardless of how a customer is treating them. You could also flip it around and say maybe the customer is having a bad day. Customer service is a skill that must be mastered.

    • My spouse and I have always found Wild Love a simply lovely place. It is my happy place and I am grateful for the kind staff who serve us and bake for us! 🙂

  17. I am hoping that one entity will be able to think of opening a decent medium size Grocery / Supermarket with basic essentials and fresh meat and produce for everyday needs of downtowners. We have way too many coffee shops, brewing station, pubs, souvenir shops that are mostly seasonal. An everyday grocery, supermalrket will surely be a hit! ( The Market on Gay St near Nama isn’t doing the job well. Really a waste of space)no need as well for more ice cream shops!

  18. Victoria says

    So excited about this new place in this gorgeous space. Meg and Shaun are wonderful folks making Knoxville proud.

  19. Hope Foulds says

    This is great news! Downtown needs a place for folks to grab a healthy meal and great coffee! What are your plans for making parking easier, e.g., parking validation? The only downside if you’re not a downtown resident.

  20. Jessica Strutz says

    Can’t wait can’t wait can’t wait!!! So glad for Meg and Shaun and the downtown community!

  21. I go to Wild Love about once a week, even though I live in West Knoxville. The pastries are something I have found no where else in Knoxville, in quality or their offerings. Who makes homemade Poptarts? They are wonderful. My daughter may eat breakfast elsewhere but makes a run for coffee at Wild Love because of the quality of the coffee there. Good luck to Meg and Shawn in this added location. Cannot wait to try the menu items at Pearl. I have no doubt as to the quality of anything they will serve.

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