Matt Robbs Biscuits and Brew to Open Downtown

Matt Robbins is well known around downtown – particularly in the Old City – not only for serving a good cup of coffee, but for the connection people feel with him. To hear him tell it, he really likes coffee, but he loves people and it shows in the relationships he’s built with customers over the years. And now he’s bringing his love for coffee, biscuits and good conversation to 800 Market Street in the edge of the Federal Courthouse Building.

Raised in Crossville, Matt studied music at Roane State and began working in food service jobs, first at Dominos Pizza in Chattanooga. In 2007 he went to work for Starbucks at Merchants where he says he “fell in love with coffee and customer service.” After a year, he was moved to assistant manager and then he opened the Starbucks on Emory.

Saying, “I really love people, talking with them, serving them quality food. I love to surprise people that I remember their name and drink.” He later moved to the Starbucks in Oak Ridge before the company laid off 900 assistant managers in a single day and he found himself searching for a job.

He worked various jobs for a bit, worked a year for Appalachian Underwriters and then found an opportunity to work at Remedy Coffee, making his return to what he enjoyed the most. He moved to the Old City and, for the next five years, worked at Remedy. He later returned to the same spot for a stint working at Awaken Coffee.

As he recalls, it was about a year into his work at Remedy that he began making biscuits. He wanted to make something with his daughter and he thought of biscuits. He found a recipe on the internet and began making them. He started wondering if he could make them just a bit better and began experimenting. He brought biscuits to the coffee shop and several dozen biscuits would sell out quickly. He wondered if he might be able to start a business of his own.

He got encouragement from friends like Nancy Wilson and Pierce LaMacchia. Pierce says his first memory of Matt was at the small first version of Kbrew on Broadway. He remembers Matt saying, “Man, you’re doing it right and before you know it you’ll have four baristas behind the counter.” Pierce remembers when that first happened and he thought of Matt.

The two kept in touch as KBrew grew and Matt worked at Remedy and, later, Awaken. He contacted Pierce for help developing a business plan and opening a spot of his own. At that point, Pierce felt that the courthouse location of KBrew wasn’t performing as he’d like and in a survey, he learned that people liked having a good coffee option, but wanted an expanded food option, often mentioning biscuits specifically.

Matt started a Kickstarter for Matt Robbs Biscuits and Brew in an attempt to raise $8,000 for needed equipment and quickly raised $3,800, but then leveled off well short of the goal. At the last minute, a final push involving a cute video (it’s at the Kickstarter link) raised the remaining money in one hour and forty-five minutes, just as the Kickstarter was set to expire. It allowed the project to move forward.

Current plans call for the business to open in late May offering Counter Culture coffee (the new business is not affiliated with KBrew) and Matt’s made-from-scratch biscuits, as well as salads and sandwiches to grab and go. He’ll have fresh, pre-made biscuits for folks in a hurry, including a sausage and cheddar, buttermilk, blueberry and feta. You can also build your own with cheese, egg and a meat of your choice.

Matt Robbins, Matt Robbs Biscuits and Brew, 800 Market Street, Knoxville, April 2018

Matt plans to hire at least one other person, but also plans to be present most of the open hours. “I know when I am here customers are going to get the ‘Matt Service.'” And that’s important to him. It’s about the coffee and the biscuit, but it’s always about the people.

You’ll get to drop in sometime in late May when he anticipates opening. You’ll find the biscuits and coffee just a short – and beautiful – walk south from Market Square at 800 Market (the end of the short road). Hours are planned to be Monday through Friday from 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM. In the meantime, you can follow Matt on Instagram  or Facebook.

Comments

  1. Charles Thomas says:

    Oh, I pass throught there frequently on the way to the Courthouse or Court. I really like the space there, and I hope it works for this. Good luck with this venture, sounds perfect!

  2. Great news for Matt. Best of luck with the new endeavor.

  3. Matt, this is so exciting!!! I loved coming to see you in the Old City!!

  4. way to go Matt! I pass that spot all the time. Can’t wait to drop in for a chat and a coffee.

  5. Paula Neeley says:

    Walk down Market toward Cumberland Ave, cross the street and walk to the courtyard of the Federal Courthouse, it is on the left in the covered part of courtyard ,. Am I correct? Got it.

  6. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m still not clearly understanding where it’s going to be? Is it where KBrew was, or another location?

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      It is 800 Market Street. At the edge of the courtyard to the federal building. Where the small KBrew was and Hot Bagels before that. Walk on Market Street from Market Square until you run into a building and it is there. It’s an odd spot to describe.

  7. another downtown worker says:

    I first met Matt when I frequented the “old” Remedy, as they were one of the only downtown coffee shops actually open early in the morning. I’m so excited to visit his new shop and super happy that he’ll be keeping early hours – something the other shops over the years haven’t done in this corner of downtown. And I can’t wait for the biscuits!

  8. Love this!! Good luck to Matt.

  9. I have been a customer since Matt was at Remedy and also Awaken. Amazing service and he always makes you feel like a friend, no matter how long it’s been since you’ve been there. His biscuits are truly yummy. I will go to wherever he is because, not only will the coffee and food be good, it will be an enjoyable experience that always makes you want to return.

  10. Matt is one of the kindest souls in town and has been a quiet force behind the rise of so many coffee businesses in our area. I’m so glad he’s now getting a space of his own to show off his amazing skills. Not to mention … HIS BISCUITS ARE AMAZING. Bravo, Matt!

  11. Matt! Great news!

  12. I am so glad to see this happening. How I longed for places like this when I worked downtown in the 80s and 90s. I will go out of my way to try this. I wish him the best of luck!

  13. Great news! I plan to be a regular customer.

  14. Yay! I’ve seen many sad people looking at the sign saying KBrew will reopen in early 2018…good news for the spot!

  15. Location?

    • 30 steps northwest of the entrance to the Howard Baker federal courthouse. It’s in the courtyard of the federal building.

  16. So just to clarify, this is going into the federal building spot?

    • Chris Eaker says:

      I wondered that, too. It’s not clear.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      Thanks Aaron (and others). I added a couple of sentences to make it clear. It was so clear in my head!

    • Thanks, I was trying to picture this in my head when I first read and couldn’t quite place it.

      • I was sitting at my desk this morning wishing there was a place within walking distance where I could just go and grab a biscuit without having to call it in. Like I do many mornings. Then I read this article a few hours later. Funny how that happens sometimes. I predict Matt will have at least one loyal customer.

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