Blackhorse Brewery and Downtown Pub to Open on Gay Street

New Home of Blackhorse Brewery and Downtown Pub, 430 S. Gay , Knoxville, August 2018

Word has been circulating for a while that Blackhorse Pub and Brewery was coming to 430 South Gay Street. It’s the former location of Five Bar and, before that, Arby’s at the corner of Union and Gay, arguably the intersection at the heart of downtown. While many may miss the previous restaurant, in Blackhorse, downtown is getting a proven concept and owners with deep experience. The new location will be called “Blackhorse Brewery and Downtown Pub.”

I recently spoke with Jeff Robinson who co-owns the business with his wife Sherri. He said, “We’ve been in the pub business since 1992.” That would be when they established the first Blackhorse location in Clarksville’s downtown. It’s still there and doing well. The allure of a larger city prompted them to open a second location, at Western Plaza. They operated there from 1997 to 2000. The Clarksville location had been devastated by a tornado in January 1999 and when Green Hills Grill contacted them about buying the lease, they accepted, so they could focus on the original restaurant.

Five years ago, they began to look at Knoxville once more and looked at 430 South Gay because they have, “been very happy in historic buildings in Clarksville. Timing and cost had not worked out, but when it became available this time, we decided we needed to pounce on it.

Blackhorse Grill, Western Plaza, Knoxville, August 2018

Blackhorse Grill, Western Plaza, Knoxville, August 2018

The recent situation at Western Plaza has also been difficult, with ongoing construction making access to the businesses there a difficult proposition. “Given the situation at Western Plaza, we wanted to give everyone a chance to thrive. Downtown is thriving and we think our employees can do well.” The five-year lease was up at Western Plaza and, after briefly considering the possibility of having two Knoxville locations, they decided moving was simply easier.

The company brews its own beer and the brewing had been taking place at the Western Plaza location. The operation had grown as they brewed beer both for themselves and for distribution, so a decision had already been made to move all the brewing operations to a new location in Alcoa. That location will also include a pub-style restaurant.

As have their other locations, downtown will include, “upscale classic pub fare.” The menu is being updated for the downtown location and will focus on burgers, flatbreads, pastas and steaks. He says they will maintain a mix of six or seven different burgers with interesting options and that, along with the flatbreads, will be the core of the menu.

New Home of Blackhorse Brewery and Downtown Pub, 430 S. Gay , Knoxville, August 2018

The new location will have twelve taps, featuring Blackhorse beers. The company produces, “38 to 40 different beers throughout the year.” Six of the taps will remain constant with their most popular beers and the other six will rotate to provide various seasonal brews. They have barrel-aged beers in the fall, for example, and they also have high-gravity beers and a cider will be released next week.

The new space will look familiar to people who have visited Five Bar – minus the chandeliers, which were taken as part of the Five concept. He pointed out that Cris and the others connected with Five have been very helpful in the transition and have been, “as nice as they could be.” Jeff says they love the windows and plan to keep those unobstructed. You will notice they’ve added some booth seating and the bar is a bit different.

Photo of new location from Blackhorse Facebook Page

Plans include opening next week and hours will be Monday through Friday from 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM and Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 AM to about 10:00 PM. He says the hours may move around a little depending on how late business comes in and what events are happening downtown. He mentioned, for example, the possibility of staying open late on nights the Tennessee Theatre has an event. Brunch will be served both Saturday and Sunday every weekend.

He’s in the midst of coordinating inspections, right now, so the mid-week opening could be delayed slightly. It’s also an irony that he’s landing in another construction zone, though most of that should be cleared, soon. The Western Plaza location will close this Saturday. Summing it up he said, “We’re just excited about the opportunity.” Check them out.

Comments

  1. Hurray! Lots of vegetarian options, please!

  2. Art Wagner says:

    Their menu is unimaginative and unexciting–really just another duplicate of things already widely available downtown, namely at a very popular place a few feet to the north on Gay St.

    • And that place a few feet to the north does a poor job at execution–their beer is terrible and the food, while cheap, is sloppily done. Blackhorse has been doing their thing for nearly 25 years and does it well. *Some* of the items may appear on other menus, but they do it better than most. It’s a brewpub, they’re not going to do Korean-Mexican fusion or try out the newest craze from LA. They give you comfort food that hits the spot for a reasonable price.

  3. Maybe some good live jazz in your exciting new spot?!!!

  4. Bob Cargile says:

    Too bad they can’t bring the outdoor seating area with them from Western. I’m looking forward to the new location.

  5. Annette Winston says:

    We love Blackhorse, but we love it IN Western Plaza. It is about the only place in Bearden where you have a full-service menu, not just pizza or Asian or Italian or sushi or whatever. We will miss it terribly. We went there a lot because there was something on the menu for everyone. Why does everyone think downtown is the only place to be? Blackhorse has had a loyal clientele in our neighborhood. Oh, well.

    • I want to add that you downtown folks are going to love Blackhorse, and I am going to miss being able to just pop over the hill for a flatbread or a garlic crust pizza or some fish tacos. I hope they come back to Western Plaza. Maybe 3 is a charm? Wouldn’t that be a kick? I hate how long all that construction is taking and what an inconvenience it has been for those businesses!

  6. Brenda Faulkner says:

    So sorry to hear that the Western Heights location is closing. A group of my friends and I meet there often for lunch. We will have to find another location in that area. I would imagine that parking will be more difficult downtown.

    • They have four massive parking garages within 5min walking distance. There is a surface lot right behind them, the Promenade Parking Garage right next to that, diagonal from there is the State Street Parking Garage. A block away are the Market Square Parking Garage and the Langley Parking Garage. Promenade, State, Market Square, and Langley are free after 6pm and on weekends. There is also street parking and a number of other surface lots within 5-10 minutes.

      Parking downtown is incredibly easy, convenient, and plentiful.

  7. It seems like Western Plaza just continues to degrade from an access perspective.

    I visited this place often during their 97 – 2000 run and it always seemed packed. This should be a great addition to downtown, welcome!

  8. Not asking because I know it’s outside your realm, but I wonder if they’re ever going to finish the Western Plaza construction. I seem to have read something about Victor Ashe bragging that he helped stop them building a mixed use building in the portion that got torn down because he’s scared of heights or development or something (which showed during his time as mayor.) But you have to take pretty much everything he says with a grain of salt anyway.

  9. Dan Howett says:

    Outstanding news! Love their Clarksville location from way back.

  10. Aaron Thompson says:

    Welcome to the block! Gay Street opened yesterday.

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