Chef Jeffrey DeAlejandro of OliBea (and family) Have a Cool New Urban Home

209 South Central Street, Knoxville, December 2018

Chef Jeffrey and I had talked about the small, unassuming building he’d purchased across from the downtown dog park for at least a couple of years. He’d invited me to lunch in his new home for food and conversation and a look at the new space. As I walked through a light snowfall, I wasn’t sure if it was the promise of a private lunch made by Jeffrey or the look into the new home that had me most excited.

If you take a dog to the dog park or are prone to wide-ranging walks, you may have noticed construction at 209/211 South Central Street. Workers have been coming and going, noise and dust emanating from within and the clear signs of changes on the way have been obvious. You might not notice it if you walked by today. Most of the facade is boarded, marked by the requisite graffiti. But you might notice a beautiful door marked “209.”

209 South Central Street, Knoxville, December 2018

209 South Central Street, Knoxville, December 2018

209 South Central Street, Knoxville, December 2018

As I stepped inside that door, which Jeffrey opened remotely from above, a stairwell led upward to the main floor of the residence. The building includes two floors, but also has a mezzanine level on the second floor, making the interior seem like three floors. The main (second) floor of the living space includes the kitchen and living area, master bed and bath and a very large walk-in closet. The children’s rooms and bathroom are located on the mezzanine.

It wasn’t always an accepted plan that the family would move downtown. They had a comfortable home in west Knoxville with about 2600 square feet. The family was growing. But Jeffrey was working downtown at Crown and Goose and so was his wife. They also found themselves drawn to activities, events and the growing list of cultural attractions developing downtown.

209 South Central Street, Knoxville, December 2018

209 South Central Street, Knoxville, December 2018

209 South Central Street, Knoxville, December 2018

They sold the home and bought the building in which they now live, thinking it would be a quick transformation into their downtown urban dream home. Jeffrey started OliBea and the family settled into a very small (800 square feet) home under the 100 block. A third child was born.

Plans met the reality of codes, construction delays and financial realities and the project stretched out for nearly three years. Jeffrey says having the five of them share 800 square feet was the best thing that could have ever happened. Jeffrey likened it to being college roommates with all the fun and discomfort that carries. He laughed recalling that he only had inches of clearance above his head to the ceiling in the small place.

209 South Central Street, Knoxville, December 2018

209 South Central Street, Knoxville, December 2018

209 South Central Street, Knoxville, December 2018

209 South Central Street, Knoxville, December 2018

They realized they didn’t need as much space as they thought and that reducing from the 2600 square feet they’d had would not be as difficult as they thought. The children and the family became closer, loving downtown walks (they’ve given them names like the “Calhouns Walk”) and downtown fun, they knew they’d made the right move.

209 South Central Street, Knoxville, December 2018

209 South Central Street, Knoxville, December 2018

They’d placed large amounts of belongings in storage but, without the use of those items for nearly two years, by the time the home was ready, they’d re-calibrated their perception of what they really need. Now that they’ve moved into their new home and enjoy 2000 square feet, it feels like more than enough. Though the children have two rooms, most nights they wind up in one because they want to be together.

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

Lunch at Jeffrey’s, 209 South Central Street, Knoxville, December 2018

After touring the beautiful home, we settled down at the eight-foot by four-foot custom built table for a warm winter’s meal. The sandwiches were made with bagels from Paysan, stuffed with multiple cheeses, greens and bacon with the entire sandwich sauteed on the stove. Sweet potato soup with a touch of bacon and greens topped off a delightful ending to our conversation.

But what about the rest of the building? What about the boarded-up first floor? We’ll leave that for Monday as Jeffrey announces major moves and big plans.

Comments

  1. Nancy Torrence says:

    I really enjoy your blog and I find it very informative. Thanks!

    My one little quibble is with the black background. It makes reading difficult even on the iPad.

  2. Dan Howett says:

    I’ve pondered that building and watched it from the dog park, especially the giant Pooh Bear inthe window. Glad to know more about it and its owners.

  3. ..The part about moving the restaurant to the ground level floor, below the living unit? I think alot of people already knew…

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      There is much more to talk about. I have thousands of readers each day and I doubt they all know what’s happening! So, I’ll lay it out next week. Thanks!

  4. Great Read…….Thanks

  5. Urban Guy, I am so grateful to “know” you and be introduced to your friends and connections. Your insightful pictorial musings have given me a sense of belonging as I transition to Knoxville from Chicago. Thank you for introducing us to the Chef and the DeAlejandro Family home and it is with great anticipation we await the reveal!

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