Rebel Kitchen and Old City Wine Bar to Close

Old City Wine Bar

The Old City took a double hit this weekend with the announcement that the Old City Wine Bar will close after four years of operation and Rebel Kitchen will close after having been open just over a year. Owner Thomas Boyd says he still believes the changes that he anticipated are happening in the Old City, but perhaps the moves to open these businesses were too early.

Boyd said he remains hopeful that great things will continue to happen for the Old City and he noted that multiple openings are already in the works for the next five months, including at least a couple in his buildings. He expects this progress to continue.

Rebel Kitchen, 108 West Jackson, Knoxville, September 2018

That said, the business wasn’t there simply to keep the expensive restaurants open. To cover costs on high-end culinary operations and the lease requires a substantial amount of monthly business. While there was improvement, it wasn’t coming quickly enough to justify continuing to remain open and wait.

Expressing appreciation to everyone who supported the businesses, he said that everything is up in the air at this point, and they are still trying to deal with the transition. His current lease is to Jon Clark, who owns the building, and his intention is to sub-lease both spaces. He anticipates this will happen quickly and noted that the spaces would be easy to convert to a new concept and should be able to open in relatively short order.

The last day of operation for both businesses is Friday, February 28.


  1. Having the Jackson Ave ramps out cannot have helped. I’m sorry to lose these great spaces.

  2. I was shocked when I read about this on their social media. Have always enjoyed taking friends and family to both of these places. The staff (especially at the wine bar) were always friendly and made us feel welcome. I really hope all of them have found places to land, employment wise. I know businesses come and go, but this one was definitely unexpected (for me anyways). If I owned a alcohol-centric business in this immediate area, it would make me a bit nervous seeing whats happened to OCWB. With the exception of J&R, it makes me wonder if this is a sign of things to come for other bars in the old city.

    RIP, OCWB. You will be missed.

  3. I’m guessing closing down the viaduct didn’t do wonders for these spots either

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      It’s a question I asked and intended to put in the article. He said he couldn’t really tell it had hurt. That said, it’s a good reminder for all of us who want to see our friends in the Old City continue to succeed, we need to support them as much as possible.

  4. Chris Eaker says

    It’s always sad to see when businesses close. That’s someone’s investment gone. I do not think it means these kinds of businesses can’t be successful though. Double S Wine Bar is still there with great wine and Steve Sansone is as knowledgeable as they come about wine.

  5. David Jeffries says

    Double S Wine Bar is is a much more unique experience.

  6. Access is everything.

  7. Makes sense. Rebel Kitchen seemed to have wonky irregular hours. The Wine Bar just didn’t compare to alternatives (like the Double S)

    • How does this make sense? I don’t think it makes sense at all. What was wonky about the hours? Nothing that I could see, and I’ve been there many times. RK are open very conventional hours and days for lunch and dinner. Also, how is Double S superior? I’ve been to both and don’t see that at all with the latter having a much narrower wine selection and no atmosphere whatsoever. Granted our subjective preferences can differ, but hours and wine selection are objective and easily verifiable.

      • Well, results kind of tell you the one is better than the other. RK, after the changes in the kitchen, had wonky hours and never got back to what they desired to be in terms of quality. Old City Wine Bar was a stale throwback to time a growing, young city doesn’t want to return to.

  8. Both closings are a terrible loss for the Old City in particular and the Knoxville dining scene in general. OCWB offered a unique, expertly selected variety of wines by the bottle and by the glass. While Double S is fine, it doesn’t even approach the breadth of OCWB offerings. Rebel is a small restaurant and success there would likely mean more than one table turn on busy nights. From what my wife and I have seen, that did not happen often, despite the great food offered first by Chef Paul and then by Chef Preston and crew. It still seems that Summit Hill Drive is a big psychological barrier that undermines the chances of success for any retailing establishment, even on the 100 Block, and the Jackson Avenue mess can’t possibly help. As Urban Guy said, we have to support these great businesses or we will see more of these closings.

  9. I’m sad to see Knoxville loose
    Rebel Kitchen. Can’t help but think it has something to do with the unexplained exit of the original chef. Side note: why is this comment section turning into an OCWB vs Double S wine bar thing?

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