Rooftop Bar, Hyatt Place, 530 South Gay Street, Knoxville, August 2018
According to General Manager, Trenton Keelan, the original plans for the rooftop at Knoxville’s downtown Hyatt Place called for a modest space for hotel guests with some arrangement for private events. That changed after the obvious demand for public access. Plans were redrawn for the space to meet codes for a public space – and a pretty spectacular one at that.
Jesse Ryan was brought in from Austin, Texas to set up the operations of the food and beverage program for the rooftop. He’s been in eight different cities in the past year, usually for a couple of weeks. He says he anticipates being in Knoxville at least through the fall, if not longer and he’s excited to get the rooftop bar set in a good direction.
The rooftop has come together quickly, as the decision was just made about six weeks ago to plunge ahead with the plans. As a result, not everything is completed. Jesse tells me they are still working on the lights for the look they are after and plants have yet to be delivered. What they do have is a beautiful bar with very comfortable outdoor furniture, umbrellas and firepits.
The views are fascinating in every direction and change with the passing clouds and advent of the sun. As you can see from the photographs, there’s a view north toward the Sterchi Building with lots of urban angles. The crane for the Regas Building can be seen in the distance.
To the east, House Mountain is in plain view and, more directly east, the view overlooks the transit center, coliseum and Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. Shifting south, I was able, in a surprise for August, to see Mt. LeConte. It offered the best view I’ve seen of the new hotel construction on Church, as well as views of the heart of south downtown and the Sunsphere.
According to Gerald DuBose, a restaurant general manager for White Lodging Services, the focus will be on, “classic cocktails through a modern lens.” They’ll have draft cocktails and their specialty drinks will utilize, “fresh, seasonal fruits flavors through three seasons.” He also promises, “Whiskeys from around the world, including Japanese whiskeys.
They are currently working through a menu, though they said it will feature, “elevated, light snacks.” Local Lorna Jean’s Popcorn is planned for inclusion and they hope to have cheese boards and beef jerky boards as well as hummus and chips. They plan to include as much locally sourced food as possible.
In addition to a full bar, a small selection of wines from around the world and as much local beer as possible. They will also have common favorite beers. A decision hasn’t been reached about live music, but it is definitely under consideration, with the possibility of local acoustic music or a dj, depending on the crowds attracted.
The bar will open tomorrow at 6:00 PM with the first in a series of specials. The first fifty guests get a free Patron Paloma. On Thursday the first fifty guests get a free Beesknees and they are $5 the rest of the night. Friday features a fun sock fashion contest with prizes and $5 Old Fashions. Saturday is Margarita Madness, with $5 Prickly Pear Margaritas.
Hours and other decisions are still fluid, but late afternoon, around 4:00 PM should be starting time and hours will go late. The non-smoking bar will be open Wednesday through Saturday and will not take reservations, meaning when capacity (a bit over 100) has been reached, no one else will be allowed up until someone leaves. Waiting guests will likely be queued in the lobby.
Trenton said, “It is awesome to open this building back up and to do this with the rooftop.” Jesse added, “All these cocktails are classic and we’re giving new life to them, just like the building. With the comfortable seating, great views, cool breeze and classic cocktails, there looks to be a lot of life on that rooftop in days to come.