OliBea to Move

OliBea, 119 S. Central, Knoxville, December 2014
209 South Central Street, Knoxville, December 2018

Sometimes problems produce exciting opportunities. Such is the case with Jeffrey DeAlejandro and OliBea. The successful breakfast spot, which I first wrote about four years ago tomorrow, has outgrown its space. “Sometimes there is an hour-and-a-half wait on a weekend,” Jeffrey said recently.

There’s a pretty hard limit of around 30 for a seating and what was once enough, is no longer adequate. While sales have tripled in the four years, they’ve had to turn down catering because they simply can’t keep up with demand. Fortunately, there is an answer.

As I reported last Friday, Jeffrey has purchased a building at 209/211 South Central and built a home on the top two stories. The remaining space on the main floor at 211 will become the new OliBea. It will be a game-changer for the restaurant. Where now he operates out of a residential-grade refrigerator, at the new location he’ll have walk-in storage, a full kitchen and a proper prep room.

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

Seating for the new restaurant will be about 45-to-fifty. He’ll also expand the menu and drinks. He will offer a small beer selection, which will include two different Pretentious beers on tap at all times and a small selection of wines. The new location will get all new equipment and with the new capacity, he feels he’ll be able to cater without stressing staff and facility capacity.

There will also be a patio on the south side of the building with some external seating and that area will be dog friendly, which is handy, given the proximity to the dog park. That side of the building will also feature a walk-up window for grab-and-go items like a muffin and coffee. It should be handy for people who are headed to or from the dog park. Speaking of muffins, you should find a range of pastries and breads to complement a full coffee program featuring espressos, cappuccinos and other coffee drinks.

The bottom floor, as you might surmise, has the same footprint as the floor you saw photographed of his home. The area totals about 1700 square feet and the build-out will be done by R2R. The Courtland Group has done the design. Jeffrey says you should expect it to feel familiar. “OliBea is still the heart of it, look of it and vibe.”

OliBea, 119 S. Central, Knoxville, December 2014

The space also offers additional opportunities. While the hours should be similar to what you’ve come to expect at the other location and he has no intention of doing regular dinner service, you can expect some delightful evening dining there as the spirit moves.

I hope to do some evening events. I enjoyed what I’ve done with Sapphire. It will be occasional weekends with a special menu. Right now, I’m inspired by Italian. We’ll have a special menu, two seatings with tickets. I’m also interested in Appalachian cuisine . . .

You should expect the new restaurant to open in late spring or early summer. At that point, the old OliBea will close, leaving that location available for what comes next. What comes next is a very exciting service for downtown. I’ll have all the details on that tomorrow.