Downtown Casual Pint to Permanently Close

Natalie and Alan Knauth with Zack Roskop, Downtown Casual Pint, Knoxville, December 2014

Casual Pint, founded by Nathan Robinette, had its original location in Bearden. When word got out in spring of 2012 that a franchise was headed downtown, I visited the Bearden store. It was big news at the time that the store fronts along Union would soon be occupied. I stopped in to the new business in July of 2012 for a look at the downtown location.

I really paid more attention when new owners of the franchise, Natalie and Alan Knauth, took over the reigns. In one story in December 2014, I met the lovely couple and a young upstart, Zack Roskhop, who had a little idea for a company called Knox Brew Tours. Zack would go on to become an entrepreneurial legend for seeing the need for a brew tour before there was much to tour to. The new couple would take over the franchise for the next six years and Natalie would be a fixture in the bar for a couple of years.

Music at the Downtown Casual Pint, Knoxville, November 2017

The story of how they came to own the franchise was the kind of story I love to tell on this blog. From the previous article:

Last February they made one of their occasional trips to downtown to celebrate his birthday. They’d been thinking they’d like to try owning a business . . . That evening the couple landed at Casual Pint on Union and noticed the coasters displayed a mention of available franchises. They asked questions, filled out paperwork and by July had the franchise for the location where it all started.

It seemed fated to be and the two enjoyed owning the bar, Natalie mentioned how much she enjoyed the downtown community the first time I met her and she mentioned it, again, when we met for this article. The two became fixtures around downtown when Alan wasn’t working at his pharmacy job at Blount Memorial Hospital.

But life changes, and in recent years, the couple had two wonderful additions to the family, with the birth of Walker three years ago and Caroline two years later. They’d handed off the day-to-day management of the bar, but late last year they had to get involved more when they lost a long-term manager. They realized they were ready to end this phase of their life and devote more time to their children.

Casual Pint, 421 Union Avenue, Knoxville, December 2014

Music at the Downtown Casual Pint, Knoxville, November 2017

They made the decision then to go with what had been on their minds for a while: They would begin as the new year got underway to find someone to purchase either the franchise or the equipment and they would vacate when their lease ended this summer. They met with Tim Zitzman, owner of the building and informed him of their plans in January. Finding a buyer would be easy for a business that had done so well. Then came the pandemic in March and the unimaginable shut down in April.

The couple says a few people have shown interest and they are still talking to several. Casual Pint does not plan to offer a franchise to the spot because they’ve begun a shift in the direction of more food offerings and this spot is less suited for that. They said Tim has been a great landlord and very helpful to them.

As Natalie put it, “We’ve lived out the entrepreneurial dream and we’re ready to focus on family.” She said she misses being downtown and seeing the people who were such regular supporters of the business. But the time has come to move on.

Alan, Natalie and Caroline Knauth, Casual Pint, Knoxville, July 2020

Alan, Natalie and Caroline Knauth, Casual Pint, Knoxville, July 2020

The couple said there are a number of people they want to thank, including Zack from Knox Brew Tours who always included them in his tours. Redd Daugherty was their long-term First Friday musical guest. “We also wanted to give a thank you to our former manager, Peter Ayars, who helped keep the place running smoothly after Walker was born, and to our long time staff, Cait (Moore), James (Moran), Joel (Palilla Hicks), and Jacob (Douglas). We were fortunate to find such a reliable and trustworthy staff who were willing to stick with us for so many years in an industry with such a high turnover rate.”

If you are interested in purchasing the equipment – coolers, chair, stools, tables, etc, contact Alan at aknauth2@gmail.com. He can also tell you about the space, which, if someone wanted both, would be a turn-key operation for a downtown bar. If you would simply like to consider the space for any use, you can contact Tim Zitzman directly at tzitzman@comcast.net.

Comments

  1. Phillip Jennings says

    You don’t mention in the article, but is CP closed as of now or will they be open a few more days to “liquidate” some inventory?

    • Natalie Knauth says

      We will be open daily until July 31st. Thank you for your patronage, Phillip! Please stop by and see James, Cait, and Joel before we close at the end of the month. Cheers!

  2. Phillip Jennings says

    And I failed to mention how sad I am to hear this news. CP was my favorite place to enjoy a beer and chat with the beertenders. I will miss talking with James and Joel and Cait, as I have missed Peter since he left. I wish them all well.

  3. Oh, so bummed to hear this! Exciting that they are moving into a new, “family” phase and wish the best. I sure hope someone is able to take advantage of that great spot. Will miss CP!!

  4. Oslo Cole says

    This might be the saddest closing yet for me. A lot of fond memories were had at this particular Casual Pint. They will be missed!

  5. So sad to hear this. “Cas Pi” was our go to spot when in town each May.

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