Another Market Square Business Closes Its Doors

Juice Bar, 2 Market Square, Knoxville, October 2016

I mentioned when Blue Coast closed a few weeks ago that we probably weren’t finished for the year. I didn’t have any inside knowledge. I hadn’t heard any rumors. It’s just the way it works each year around December: businesses that have been hanging on close. Maybe their leases end. Maybe they are looking at the slow months of January and February and it seems like a good time to get out.

The Juice Bar becomes the latest to shut down operations at the end of the year. They posted a simple photo and statement on Instagram and closed the doors.

It’s not always easy to know what is going on with a business. There are so many ways that things can go wrong – and the same variables can spell success for other businesses: A large number of owners can generate conflict – or a great support system. It can generate too many people trying to be in charge or everyone willing to do anything that needs to be done. A small kitchen can doom a restaurant or force them to be very creative. And on it goes.

Some of the challenges facing small businesses are always difficult and can sink a business: It is very hard to find, hire and retain quality employees. Food service is particularly difficult. Rent is going up all around downtown and a corner on Market Square is going to be one of the most expensive.

Juice Bar, 2 Market Square, Knoxville, October 2016

Negative impressions can be set early, for good reason or not, and can be hard to overcome. I know one very successful restaurant that fought an uphill battle early because people got the impression it was more expensive and fancier than it really is.

So, we can speculate, and many people will say they “know” what happened in a particular case like this one, but unless you are on the inside, you really don’t. Often employees don’t even know what happened. I passed the Juice Bar just a week or so ago and noted that they seemed particularly busy.

I don’t particularly love the kinds of healthy juices that are popular, right now, but I thought enough of downtown frequenters might to make it work. Maybe hard-core juicers want something fresher and not pre-made and so they didn’t support it. If a juice place in a prime location can’t work downtown at this time, it makes me skeptical of other niche concepts people often complain about not having, such as a vegan restaurant. Maybe we just aren’t there, yet.

Juice Bar, 2 Market Square, Knoxville, October 2016

There is, of course, the possibility that something particular doomed this business. The hours have been mentioned as an oddity: They closed each day at 6:00 PM, which seems to miss two to three of the square’s busiest hours. Perhaps people reacted negatively to the fact that it is a chain and it felt like one. Some chains pull off feeling local while others seem to be missing something.

So, we have volatility on Market Square and, particularly it seems, on the corners. The square seems destined to have even more people looking for ways to spend their money when the Embassy Suites opens just across from this location. It seems a great opportunity for someone. Will it be filled as quickly as 37 Market Square? We’ll see.

Speculate away on all of it and we’ll see if this is the last closure in the year.


  1. I am not surprised at this closing.

    Maybe a good retail store (local) will go back in the spot.

  2. I always thought that closing at six was crazy. They were missing out on the after-hours foot traffic (which can be considerable). And I bet a bunch of those people thought the place was out of business, because why on earth would you be closed then otherwise? I wonder if they ever walked around the corner at, say, 8 pm and looked through the window at Cruze.

  3. Dave Wilson says

    In the Albany, NY area juice bars were synonymous with strip joints. The local governments were unable to legally shut these places down directly so they denied them liquor licenses in an attempt to suppress them. Thus the topless juice bar was engendered. I wonder if that concept would have garnered more traffic.

  4. Hopefully those folks quickly find employment in other places. Sorry to hear this is happening to such a good group of people.

    I remember how much fan fare this place opened to. Everyone talking about how they were so happy a healthy option was going to be downtown, etc. Same as with any other restaurant/bar that opens in this area too I guess. As another poster pointed out- this is just going to continue to happen. Obviously some is a normal part of the business cycle for things to open and close, but downtown landlords aren’t doing anyone any favors by continuing to jack up rent on businesses. Meanwhile, the downtown periphery will continue to flourish and businesses will continue to relocate to those areas, with affordable housing and rent for us “working folk” who don’t mind not being the “cool kids” who overpay for everything. Just my 2 cents.

  5. As to the “chain feel”…
    I believe that one of their biggest mistakes was the outer appearance of the business. They totally ruined the “feel” of market square by painting the building that awkward grey color. By “keeping with the brand” they sacrificed keeping with “Market Square’s brand”. I have had numerous family and friends that have visited, applauding Market Square, only to then see Juice Bar and make comments about it’s “chaininess” and “tackiness”.

    Here’s to hoping something great goes into that spot, possibly the busiest corner in the whole square. I would love for that corner to standout.

  6. Maybe something non-food or booze related can go in? Or at least a unique restaurant. (Thai, Cajun, even Chinese. I don’t even think downtown has a basic Chinese takeout restaurant)

  7. Sabrina Greene says

    The Juice Bar was the healthiest place downtown to get a quick snack or drink. I wish something like this would last downtown. T

  8. The 500+ parking spaces and new sculpture will help…

  9. Mike McConnell says

    I’m very sorry to hear this, but not surprised. Until a person has owned a “central” downtown business, I doubt they understand the difficulties of it. I also have little doubt that this trend will subside until downtown property owners understand the evolving economic landscape.

    The creative outskirts of the downtown area continue to grow in appeal.

    • Does anyone actually know their rent? Or are we just guessing.

      It’s a 1,000 sf juice concept …. I doubt they were paying more than $3,000 per month for rent. You only need $30,000 a month revenue to make that work. That’s 125 customers needed per day to make your typical profit margin.

      I went to nectar in Bearden today. I saw 12 people there over a span of 15 minutes…. It seems like maybe it was an issue of product and not over priced rent.

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