Crown and Goose to Close, Barley’s and Two Buildings Sold, and What Comes Next for the Old City

The Crown and Goose, 123 South Central Street, Knoxville, October 2018

There are so many moving parts to this story it’s hard to get it all in a caption. Some parts of the above are connected, but not so other parts. It’s also part of a bigger move by Thomas and Harrison Boyd to expand their hospitality holdings.

The initial part of the story, the closing of the Crown and Goose has nothing to do with the rest of the story, with the exception that owner Randy Burleson, after making that decision, also decided to sell the building it inhabits. He bought it from Jeffrey Nash in January 2016. Perhaps not unrelated to the closing, popular chef Jeffrey DeAlejandro also left to start Oli Bea, leaving the restaurant without its original culinary vision.

While Crown and Goose has been an Old City anchor for many years, the same could also be said of Barley’s. It’s hard to imagine the music scene in the Old City without that anchor. Randy Burleson also owned Barley’s, which he opened in 2002, and kept open, it might be added, during some lean times in the Old City. With the closing of the Crown and Goose, he decided to sell both buildings and the Barley’s business to Thomas and Harrison Boyd.

Currently one or the other of the brothers owns all or part of Merchants of Beer, the building housing Good Golly Tamale, the building housing Corks Wine and Spirits, Old City Wine Bar and Rebel Kitchen and Old City Athletic Club. This acquisition expands that list to include Barley’s, potential new businesses in the Crown and Goose location and they have plans for an expansion at Merchants of Beer.

Barley’s, 200 East Jackson, Knoxville, October 2018

Of Barley’s, Thomas said, “Somehow I’ve avoided two things I love; pizza and music. I’ve always been interested in Barley’s. I love it and want it to stay as it is.” Like any new owner, he has ideas of ways the business may be improved “around the edges.”

The building housing Crown and Goose is another matter. It’s a large space and Thomas envisions the possibility of having it divided into more than one business. He’s already been in contact with parties who’ve expressed an interest.

The two are bullish on the prospects of the Old City, pointing out the pending completion of the Crozier, bringing more residents and retail just across Jackson from the Crown and Goose building. Rebel Kitchen opened recently and Kefi is set to open to the public next week, so the momentum seems to be there.

Merchants of Beer, 137 South Central Street, Knoxville, May 2017

In a bonus, unrelated to the story, but related to the Boyd’s and Merchants of Beer, plans are underway for an outdoor area taking about 7,000 square feet of the parking lot. The business is co-owned with Bobby McCarter, while the property is owned by the Boyd’s. The outdoor space will include various games, seating and picnic tables.

They have also purchased a food truck you may have noticed sitting in the parking lot recently. It will be used for a pop-up dining experience, giving a rotating list of chefs a shot at trying out their concept behind Merchant’s of Beer. Thomas said they’ll be attuned to who does well and the possibility exists of collaborating with them for a brick and mortar venture.

In short, he said they want to help preserve the Old City while helping maintain the momentum it has accumulated in recent months and years. He hopes to have new tenants in the Crown and Goose space in the short term, while the outdoor space at Merchants of Beer may come a bit later.


  1. Sad. I’m going to miss the Crown and Goose. There’s nothing quite like British pub food. Also what parking lot is this, the one next to merchants of beer or the one across the street?

  2. Please please please do something about the bathrooms at Barley’s. I cannot believe they are as bad as they are, but it keeps me from going there. Worst in town.

    • I couldn’t agree more! Please please PLEASE fix those bathrooms! And while you’re at it, PLEASE make sure the beer lines get cleaned more regularly. I avoid getting draft beers there because the beers take on the mildew of the dirty lines.

      • Agreed. Barleys REALLY needs to clean their lines and fix their bathrooms. It’s ridiculous that the bathrooms are in that shape with how much business they do.

  3. Quick modern history of 200 E. Jackson in the Old City and Barley’s as we remember it.

    In its latest hospitality-oriented incarnation, the owners of 200 E. Jackson renovated the building and opened The Spaghetti Warehouse in the late 1980s/ early 1990s. As I recall, the owners were a doctor and his wife, Mrs,. Bright, who was from Lenoir City. They didn’t fail exactly. They sued the franchisor for giving them two managers that had previously been caught stealing. My family discussed purchasing the building from them (for $600,000, including all the antiques, actual railway caboose and ornate chandeliers), as our family was heavily invested in the Old City throughout the 1990s.

    (To my point, we owned three businesses in the Old City around that time (Earth to Old City, The Big Dipper Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlour and Venus de Gaia), and both my sister Paula and I served as Old City Neighborhood Association president. We remember well the droves of people that would eat at Spaghetti Warehouse, Tjaarda’s and Amigo’s, then trek to our end of Jackson, where they enjoyed desserts and coffee at JFG Coffeehouse and adventure-shopped in Earth to Old City till midnight, when we closed– we remember this because after a 14-hour day standing on hard wood, your feet and back hurt enough to remember.)

    After Spaghetti Warehouse closed, Doug Beatty and a partner bought the building at 200 E. Jackson and re-opened the business as Barley’s (the business we now know).

    Doug Beatty sold the building at 200 E. Jackson and the business of Barley’s to Randy Burleson in 2002, after he’d grown tired of driving across the mountain to Knoxville. Doug lived in Asheville, where he’d opened the original Barley’s with his partner some years before. (Interesting aside here, in the basement of Barley’s in Asheville was born Highland Brewery). Doug also opened a third Barley’s in Greenville, SC.

    In 2018, Randy Burleson has sold the building at 200 E. Jackson and the business he purchased from Beatty (Barley’s) to the Boyds.

    The shadow of a baseball stadium looms…

  4. Just for clarification, Randy Burleson didn’t open Barley’s in 2002. He bought it from the original owners—who retained ownership of the Asheville and Greenville, SC locations.

  5. Lots of changes coming on the old city side of downtown it seems. I’ll miss Crown and Goose, but really I’ll miss the original C&G. One of my first great experiences when I moved back to Knoxville was watching the US men’s national soccer team there with the local chapter of the American Outlaws in the house. The atmosphere and the food never seemed the same after it was sold.

  6. I have wanted the mob building since I moved here….
    It’s always been misused.

  7. The consolidation continues.

    I have nothing against the Boyds or anyone else mentioned in particular, but I am starting to feel wary about one rich family (with as-yet unrealized political designs) buying up so much of our city. They’re not the only ones of course, but it’s a short list of people who literally own downtown, and that list seems to get shorter every couple of months.

    I didn’t worry about downtown Boydship in the past because I liked their spots well enough, and they just felt like people investing in downtown… but after the politics (that water tower!), baseball stadium designs (there? really?), and ‘let’s buy more of downtown and give businesses to our kids’… well, it’s starting to feel like the creation of a dynasty. This isn’t about investing in local startups for a return, this is literally buy up what we can and let our children run it.

    The political ambitions also give me a bad ‘we’re gonna run this town someday’ vibe. And the trend invites itself to comparison with a certain other prominent political family that shall go unnamed.

    Is being fantastically rich not enough? Do you need to keep buying up the city? Do your kids even need to work to justify your purchases? Do you need to run for Governor? Do you need to buy a baseball team? Is there a ceiling to ambition?

    • I am sorry but I guess I missed the part where people are not allowed to invest in our city because they are successful.

      • I know right? How do they think wealthy people stay wealthy? They buy real estate and run businesses. Real estate is one of the few assets that is guaranteed to appreciate over time, so why wouldn’t they put *some* of their money into buying real estate? Further, they’re running businesses that employ people. This type of investment is what helped Knoxville get out of its rut over the last 15 years.

      • Is that really your takeaway from what I said?

  8. Remember – when the Boyd family comes begging for a tax break to build a baseball stadium for “you” or “all of us” or “the city”, tell them NO. No public welfare for millionaires.

  9. Oh yeah… the baseball stadium is coming… and I, for one, can’t wait.
    Play Ball ⚾️

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