COVID-19: Checking In with Pete’s (Plus More Business Updates)

Pete's Coffee Shop
Pete’s Coffee Shop

Today, we’ll check in with Joey Natour, co-owner of Pete’s (with his Dad, Pete) to see how their last few weeks have played out. Every business’ journey has been a little different. We’ll also continue our look at downtown businesses and their current status. But first, here’s Joey (lightly edited for flow):

When Covid-19 first hit Knoxville we voluntarily reduced our dine in capacity to 50% and encouraged take-out. At that time business was good; not what a normal March looked like but our numbers were good and we had a full staff. It wasn’t until the order Friday evening on March 19th that the dining room had to close and we could only offer take-out did we first feel the effects of this Virus.

We had food already ordered and prepped to feed our usual 700 guests that flood Pete’s every Saturday. That was a big hit, but we decided to stay open and offer take-out until we heard further news. The first week of take-out was slow, I remember telling my dad (Pete) that I didn’t remember the last time I turned the lights off, locked the door, left the restaurant and wasn’t tired.

It was a very stressful and frustrating couple of weeks, but I had my mother and father by my side reminding me that all we could do was work hard and give it all we had. As time went on it picked up. It picked up so well that we started slowly bringing back our staff and now have a viable business again. We cannot thank our community enough for their support. Now we are operating at 50% capacity and things are looking up. We show up every day prepared and ready to serve!

The PPP at first was vague and confusing and scared me. I didn’t trust the fact that it was a “forgivable” loan, but we applied not knowing all the details. Our plan was when all the details came out, if we didn’t like it we could simply give it back. After receiving a very modest amount it turned out that, for our situation, we could use the money effectively to pay our staff members who decided to come back and join the payroll.

We will also be able to cover some of rent and utilities with the loan. We have followed all the rules and we have high hopes that it will after all be forgivable. We will end up giving some of the money back due to the 8 week time constraint in which we have to spend it.A One thing I would like people to understand during this time is to be patient will all of their favorite small businesses. For many restaurants like us it has been difficult ordering food. Many items are out of stock, and many poultry and meats have been non existent. The chicken and meats that are available from our suppliers have skyrocketed in price due to shortage. Ordering our normal products at reasonable prices is as hard as it was for you to find toilet paper and hand sanitizer in grocery stores when this all started!

Stay Safe, Joey

Line Outside Pete’s Coffee Shop, Knoxville, Fall 2012

I’d previously listed some of the Gay Street businesses and their current status which, as I noted is so rapidly changing, it is almost a questionable task, but I’ll do another dozen or so now, and I’ll try to update as we go along. Thanks for corrections. I got a couple the other day and I appreciate it. Let’s stay on Gay Street for this installment and hit a few more:

  • Cafe Vicolo: Open, but with a fluctuating schedule due to catering events.
  • Clancy’s: I said it was take out only (last update on their FB was mid-April) and a reader pointed out they are open for business.
  • Starbucks: Open
  • Kopita: A reader said they are open. Their FB has not been updated since mid-March
  • Viet Bread and Tea: A reader said they are open. FB not updated since February. Notice a trend here?
  • C.J.’s Tacos: Open for call-in curbside service Update: Open for dining in or taking to the roof to dine
  • Update: K-Brew Open with seating in the lobby of the Embassy Suites
  • Coffee and Chocolate: Open 12-7 every day for grab-and-go coffee and chocolate
  • Cruze Farm: Open
  • Blackhorse Pub and Brewery: Offering free lunches to displaced service industry workers Monday, Wednesday and Friday
  • Downtown Grill and Brewery: Growlers and Kegs offered curbside, Renovations Underway, Decision about open coming mid-May
  • Bliss/Tori Mason: Open and continuing curbside and online
  • Art Market Gallery: Opening June 5 for weekends only
  • Pioneer House: Closed until they feel it is safe to reopen
  • Suttree’s: Offering to-go ramen
  • Downtown Wine and Spirits: Curbside Service and Downtown Delivery
  • Phoenix Pharmacy and Fountain (the Drug Store): Open for Business (they have been a life-saver for us, please support them)
  • Phoenix Pharmacy and Fountain (the Ice Cream Part): Doing good works behind the scenes, but closed until they feel it is safe
  • Kilwins: Open
  • Status Dough: Open weekends for curbside
  • Covenant Care Clinic: Open
  • Prestige Cleaners: Closed
  • Mast General Store: Online Only
  • Chivo: Curbside

That’s what I’ve got, for now. Correct me on any of those if I’m wrong.

Weekly Giveaway:

This week I’m purchasing a $25 gift card to Barley’s and another $25 gift card to Tree and Vine. To enter send an email to with the subject header “Barley’s Gift Card Giveaway” or “Tree and Vine Gift Card Giveaway,” depending on which you want to enter. The deadline to enter is midnight Friday night.

Same rules as before: “like” Knoxville Page on Facebook to help us help local businesses and donate at least $10 to something supporting COVID efforts or to someone impacted by the pandemic. Confirm in the email that you’ve done both and tell me how much and to whom you donated. Each entry requires its own donation. If you cannot donate at this time, enter anyway and just say so. It’s all good. The contest runs until midnight Friday night.

In the meantime, if you’d like to have access to multiple local gift card purchase options at once, visit Knoxville Page. If you’d like to have your business represented there, send me an email at and I’ll connect you up. During this difficult time, all money for gift cards goes directly to the business you choose to support.