Butcher Shop/Deli/Market Coming to Old City

Jeffrey in His Kitchen, 209 South Central Street, Knoxville, December 2018

And so, the final question in the series of articles is answered: Chef Jeffrey DeAlejandro will retain his lease at the current location of OliBea at 119 South Central Street. He’ll move OliBea a couple of blocks to the south this summer and, after a brief construction period, he will open a new business at the 119 location.

His plans offer an interesting insight into planning and sustaining a business. He told me this concept was one he’d had before he opened OliBea, but the margins on a butcher shop and deli are very thin, so he felt opening a restaurant made more sense at the time.

A number of variables have changed since he opened OliBea, however, and he feels those changes make this the right time to open the business he’d originally considered. First, and most obviously, the Old City is different now. A number of new restaurants have opened, the population has grown and it is poised to grow rapidly in the coming months. That makes a low-margin business more likely to succeed.

The other element that comes into play is that he is well-known and has developed relationships with many of the other restaurants and farms in the area. He’s also listened to his customers over the last four years and that has allowed him to fine-tune his concept in order to make it more likely to be profitable.

Chef Jeffrey DeAlejandro, OliBea, 119 S. Central, Knoxville, December 2014

To one side in the new shop will be a butcher counter and meat case. He plans to have a range of locally and regionally produced beef, pork, lamb and chicken, using the relationships he’s developed. You’ll be able to purchase ham, bacon and sausage and more. He’s had numerous customers ask about the availability of the meats he’s used at OliBea and now they’ll be able to buy them from him. He’ll also offer quality cheeses in the same manner.

Customers will not only be able to buy the meat to take home for preparation, they’ll be able to purchase quality charcuterie boards made by the experienced partner he’s bringing aboard. This is also where the relationships with other restaurants comes in: He’ll be able to supply many of them with their charcuterie boards, thereby not having to depend on walk-in business alone.

The meat and cheese being what he uses at OliBea, he can also supply his own restaurant, meaning that the operation should work together very nicely and give the business a good running start it would not have had four years ago. With a partner, he can leave the operation of this shop to focus on the larger OliBea just down the street. And conversely, anything you enjoy at OliBea, you should be able to snag at the market.

As for the deli and market, he’s picturing a New York Style deli where those same meats and cheeses have been made into great, fresh sandwiches and soups available for grab-and-go. He will offer foods based on what he can get that is fresh at the time, so the menu will rotate. There will likely be a few seats in the revamped space, but the emphasis will be clearly on dropping in and getting what you need for lunch or dinner.

Is there a resemblance?, Jeffrey Dealejandro, Pretentious Glass, Knoxville, January 2018

Is there a resemblance?, Jeffrey Dealejandro, Pretentious Glass, Knoxville, January 2018

“People have told me for a long time what they want and I have listened. They want to buy the grits and cheeses and more that I use and small restaurant owners want pre-made charcuterie.” Now, he feels, he is ready to meet that demand and that the demand is such that it will support the new shop.

As he did with OliBea, he’ll start slow and add more products as the demand grows. He hopes, for example, to add a seafood program eventually, starting with orders for the fish and seafood that he can get fresh. Expect to see this and other changes as the market and deli sides grow into what can be sustained at this point in downtown Knoxville. If all goes well, he said it would be great if that eventually needed a larger location, just like OliBea.


  1. The Modern Gal says

    Oh I have been dying to have a deli somewhere in the area. I’m so thrilled to hear this!

  2. Is it possible to sell baba ganous, and similar “hard to make at home” deli foods? That would be amazing! (We are vegetarian.)

  3. Absolutely excited to see this concept up and running. In the mean time grab your meats from Butler & Bailey market on Northshore drive!

    • Downtown Worker says

      Also gonna give a shoutout to Willy’s Butcher shop. He’s really upped his game lately with his dry aging room. I’m excited for the local charcuterie though. It’s a long time coming!

  4. thank gosh it’s not another beer or wine joint…finally.

  5. Unless they have multiple restaurant buying from this butcher shop I don’t see how it survives. People just don’t cook much any more.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      That’s why the multiple restaurants buying from it that I mentioned in the blog make all the difference. He also owns a restaurant and caters, so he can buy from it. And then there is the Urban family – we still cook a good bit and I can’t wait.

    • That’s absolutely not true. I cook all the time, and I’m from the generation that kills everything so I can definitely tell you cooking isn’t dying. We all want better food, and that’s what this butcher shop will bring. Plus there’s also the fact that there are 1,000+ new residential units that are either being built or will begin within the next year so it’s definitely a viable business model.

  6. James Schindler says

    Congratulations! Success upon success with a great idea for our old city neighborhood. So excited to have a butcher in the area.

  7. I am so darn excited about this. It will be great to have a place in the downtown area where you can get local and good cuts of meat.

  8. YES!!
    Any chance for some bagels/schmears to go full NYC deli style?!

  9. #bestnews

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