Pearl on Union, 513 Union Avenue, Knoxville, April 2018
Shaun and Meg Parrish have developed a reputation in the city (and even nationally) for their quality coffee and excellent baked goods. It started in 2007 when they first purchased Old City Java and began to make a place they already loved, even better. Meg began to make baked goods which the shop carried. Others started carrying them, as well, and it became obvious that a new location centered around the baked goods made sense.
So it was that in 2015, they announced the opening of Wild Love Bakehouse on Central Street a bit past Happy Holler. It was an out-of-the-gate hit when it opened late that year. Two years later, in June of 2017, the couple announced they would open another location on Union Avenue, and dubbed it Pearl on Union. Filling the location best known as Just Ripe and then the Cruze Farm pop-up in the summer of 2016.
The journey to opening the location had begun before the announcement as lease arrangements were negotiated. From there it seemed pretty simple. “Seemed” is the key word. Sean laughed at that statement now and says he should have knocked on wood before making such an assumption. As he pointed out, everything costs more money and takes more time that it appears it should. He and Meg were determined the business would not open until it was ready.
That time is near. Today the coffee shop and food store will open with limited hours and a limited menu until final issues are ironed out and the store is ready to complete rock. It will be open from 7:00 AM to 2:00 PM weekdays and 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM on weekends for, probably, a couple of weeks. During this period they’ll have coffee and pastries. A grand opening is planned for Friday, April 13.
Shaun said they’ll use the two weeks to work on finishing details on the shop – adding art and other touches and doing any necessary adjustments they identify as needing to be done to make things perfect. It will also give them time to do further staff training.
I dropped in yesterday and met store manager Noam Orr who, with his partner moved here from Portland, Oregon this past July. She attained a position as a Post Master Fellow at the National Lab and he searched for a job in the coffee industry after having been a roasting assistant at Upper Left Roasters in Portland. Old City Java kept coming up in his search, so he applied and, in August, Shaun reached out.
The couple moved downtown and Noam says they have really loved Knoxville so far, saying they love smaller cities that seem to be on their way up. He said people have been very welcoming and he feels like he can play a part in the city’s emergent coffee culture.
The idea behind this location is to provide healthy, tasty and quick food, with salads, sandwiches and snacks to be added after the early soft opening period. The pastries and other food will be baked fresh daily at Wild Love Bakehouse and delivered to the new location.
The architectural work was completed by Sanders Pace with lots of input from Shaun and Meg and the construction was completed by Christopolous and Kennedy. The space feels much larger than I anticipated and has some of the very best windows in the city looking out onto one of the prettiest blocks. Check out that window seating.
Shaun summed it up by pointing out that the couple, “want to be really proud of what we do and to get it right.” Come by and check them out, but remember, it’s a “soft” opening with reduced hours and menu. Give them a “like” on their Facebook page and support this great new business.