Two Market Square Businesses Will Not Re-Open

Knoxville Chocolate Company, 29 Market Square, Knoxville, January 2018

We knew there would be businesses which could not make it through this difficult stretch or simply decided it wasn’t wise to try. A number of the businesses which will shutter will have a range of reasons. For some a closure was coming in any event and the pandemic simply coincided with the closure or perhaps sped it up. Today we’ll look at two businesses closing during the pandemic, but under very different circumstance.

Knoxville Chocolate Company has closed its downtown location, which it opened in January 2018. In this case, the sister businesses will continue to operate at the west location of Bradley’s Gift and Home and online at shopbradleys.com. So, the business continues, though without the Market Square location.

Knoxville Chocolate Company, 29 Market Square, Knoxville, January 2018

I spoke to owner Brad Hammlet and asked him if he could tell us more about what led to the decision. He replied with the following (edited lightly):

When the shutdown occurred earlier in the year and as events began to be canceled we could see that downtown traffic was going to be greatly affected. For a store that’s dependent on volume, losing the farmers Market on Saturdays, restaurants going to half capacity  and all the other downtown events canceled was too difficult to overcome for an extended period of time.

 

 We did apply for the PPP Loan and EIDL Loan, and received both. It was an extremely difficult process and took multiple attempts for both. Unfortunately, it was not enough to keep both our Market Square location and our west location, Bradley’s Gift and Home going. The cap on the EIDL loan forced us to choose between the two stores and Bradley’s is where we had to focus our business. Not only is our production facility located there, but the majority of our revenue comes from the west location.

 

We also realize, due to the growth at Bradley’s,  that we haven’t been able to give Market Square the attention required. Closing a business takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions. There’s sadness, embarrassment, and the constant thoughts of, “What could I have done differently?” Then there’s the moments of clarity, when you know that it’s the right thing . . . We (continue to) sell all of our chocolates at Bradley’s and online at shopbradleys.com. We’re creating a wholesale program for 2021 and have some other plans in development so it’s not the end, just a different path than we thought we would be on.

 

We have so many people to thank for making this journey amazing. We’re grateful for everyone that worked at our Market Square location. We appreciate Robin Thomas and Downtown Knoxville so much. Visit Knoxville was amazing,  Thank you Alan for the work you do to bring downtown the attention it deserves. We’re so grateful for every guest that came into Knoxville Chocolate Company over the past two years. We’ll miss the beautiful space we had at 29 Market Square and can’t wait to see who takes it over.
In the end, Brad made a simple, clear-eyed decision that he could only save part of his business and the loss of festivals and other events tipped the balance away from the Market Square location. It’s a reminder of how delicate an ecosystem this downtown renaissance has produced. It takes all the moving parts for some businesses to survive.

Myrtle's Chicken and Beer, 13 Market Square, Knoxville, March 2018

Myrtle’s Chicken and Beer, 13 Market Square, Knoxville, March 2018

The other business which will not re-open is Myrtle’s Chicken + Beer. Speculation had been ongoing as to the fate of the downtown location of the restaurant after the west location was closed permanently. The good news, which confirms the bad news, is that a new lease with a different group has been signed for the space at 13 Market Square, which has been the location for Myrtle’s since March 2018.

Again, nothing is simple. This closure may have been pushed over the edge by the pandemic, but likely more significant to the story is the death of owner Gale Honeycutt, President and CEO of Volcue, LLC this past February. The company owns an array of businesses, including Puleo’s, Cru Bistro and Nama and others. With the death of Honeycutt, the company was forced to make decisions going forward and apparently Myrtle’s did not fit with their plan. Both Cru Bistro and Nama have reopened, but to this point, Puleo’s has not.

Comments

  1. Thanks as always for keeping us updated…
    I noticed the For Lease sign at Knoxville Chocolate yesterday and was wondering about this… I am saddened I won’t be able to walk over to grab some of their chocolate, but I am glad to know its still out west and can be ordered. Who knows, maybe someone downtown will start carrying their chocolates when we get back up and running!!!

  2. I thought Myrtles already reopened last time I was downtown. There were several people eating outside.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      No. Maybe someone else using their patio from another restaurant. I’ve confirmed that Not Watsons was using the patio as over flow.

  3. If you love downtown businesses, go out and support them! Take advantage of carry out and gift certificates even if it’s out of your way. You’re gonna want them to be there when this season is over!

    • Crystal Miller says

      I agree with you Adam. The city is out in full force handing out parking violations which could contribute to keeping people away. I wish they would rethink their policy during this time.

      • Scott Schimmel says

        Crystal, spaces need to turn over.

      • Knoxville Chocolate – such a lovely fabulous place. I’m glad they have an additional location. I support downtown💕 I bought a tie dye top with matching mask to wear to the Bistro Saturday night. It took forever for me to enter when no longer Vagabondia- it’s a fun shop.

  4. It does not surprise me that Myrtles is closing. The food and drinks were inconsistent and often overpriced for what was being offered compared to other places around the square and immediate downtown area. It is sad any time something closes, but here’s to hoping it is something new and better.

  5. Carol E Myers says

    I’m so sad about Knoxville Chocolate’s closing. Even though I’m not a Knoxville resident (sadly), I always stopped by when I was downtown. Last year, when they found at it was my birthday, I got free chocolate! No matter how old you are, the thrill of a candy store never goes away.

  6. David Brown says

    Your title is misleading. Two Market Square is a building with two retail tenants. These two businesses are open and will not be closing. What you should have said as a title is “Two Businesses on Market Square Will Not Reopen.” You mention 13 Market Square as if it is a specific address so I know you know the difference.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      There is only one business at Two Market Square (which is an address and not a building): Petro’s Chili and Chips. As we all understand that Market Square Businesses are a thing, I’m saying two of them will not re-open. I suspect that was clear to most people and very few, if any, were “misled.” If I wanted to say that Petro’s was closing – and not mention it by name – I would say “Business at Two Market Square Closes.”

      • There are risks to employing descriptive terms or place names in your branding.

        Demanding that someone else refrain from using the term “two market square businesses” is nuts.

    • This has to be the stupidest comment of the week

  7. David Brown says

    You don’t consider Coffee & Chocolate a business? There are two businesses at Two Market Square. I suggest you reconsider what you are saying in your titles and articles. Be a professional or speak with colloquial phrases. If you choose the latter don’t pretend the former.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      I do consider Coffee and Chocolate a business. I believe them when they say their address is 327 Union Avenue. I also believe I’ll speak as I choose and I’m not pretending.

      • David Brown says

        So, you’ve actually done no research. You don’t know that the building housing these two businesses (regardless of their street address) are part of one legal entity defined under The State of Tennessee law as “Two Market Square, LLC”? I get the fact you’re just a blog…but, stop trying to pretend journalism.

        • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

          I’m not sure where your energy is coming from or where you came from. I’m a guy trying to provide a service. I’ve never called myself a journalist, but I think what I do is helpful. What is your motivation for attacking what I’m doing? How is it helpful? You started by arguing that the construction of my caption implied the businesses *at* 2 Market Square were going out of business. Now you want to shift to discuss the LLC? As if your original intent was that I was misleading people who would take me to mean “Two Market Square, LLC?” Be serious. And go away. If what I am doing disturbs you, please leave. Don’t read. Move along.

          • David Brown says

            Seriously, I can’t (never could) take you seriously. You’re a pretender. I realized this when you “reported” on the relocation of Rala but never talked to anyone. You’re just a guy walking around with a camera making it up as you see fit. To your fans I will exercise my right to move on. That said, I think if you actually own property on Market Square you should be afforded the opportunity to speak for its use.

          • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

            You know, David, a respectful way to have started this conversation – maybe even via an email – would have been to acknowledge that you own Two Market Square, LLC and you wanted to avoid any confusion my caption might have caused. I would have probably just changed it and we would not have had to go through this semantic dance. I understand, now, where your motivation is coming from – you are angry about my article three years ago about Rala moving to the Old City. For your information, I tried every way I knew to contact you. I left messages with a woman I understood to be your secretary (Susan?) or some connection and I never heard back. I regret that you are angry, but this was entirely an inappropriate and petty way to deal with it. I’m a nice guy and I’d be happy to talk to you any time if you have something on your mind.

        • Suburban Mom says

          Wow David Brown, grow up,

        • DB, your is based on your interpretation of the headline only. Failure to research and learn the whole story is on you this time. Unverified impressions are the kind of practice that led to the mayhem in Chicago last weekend. No one is implying that your LLC is going Legs Up.

    • David Brown – you’re an idiot. Go away, troll. Get a life already.

  8. Puleo’s probably will not reopen.

    The original Puleo’s location, at I-40 and Strawberry Plains Pike, now has an NAI Knoxville realty sign out front.

  9. I will vouch for knoxvilleurbanguy, He is actually a really nice guy. I enjoy reading his blog. I find it informative and entertaining. Never really noticed it not being “Professional Journalism”. For me that’s probably a good thing. As to David Brown’s comments; Well written sir! Poorly thought out and somewhat childish but grammatically on point. I’m not sure any reasonable person would confuse “Two businesses close on Market Square” with ” Business closes at Two Market Square” but we live in a country where you are free to speak your mind and pitch editorial temper tantrums to your hearts content.

    • I’ve known Urban Guy for many years. When I was recovering from esophageal cancer at home, I was having difficulty finding one of the few nutritional products my system would tolerate. Without prompting, Urban Guy sought out and found the product, and delivered it to my door, gratis. We enjoyed some brief conversation, mostly about my circumstances. He’s the real deal, an unpretentious, talented, intelligent, decent, truly nice guy.

      You, on the other hand, David Brown, I don’t know, save what you’ve written here. That’s enough for me to know you are a petty, spiteful and unhappy person. If you own businesses downtown, or anywhere for that matter, and I find that you’re involved, you’ll not realize my patronage. As someone said earlier in this conversation – grow up.

  10. Alan Sims has always been kind and open with his stories and willing to make corrections when warranted. I read Inside of Knoxville to learn about what is going from someone whose only agenda is sharing his passion for the downtown area. Thank you, Alan, for doing you!

  11. Randy Mantooth says

    The title and article clearly convey the concept of “more than one” business. Tax parcel IDs would be ideal in describing individual buildings but.. not preferred.

  12. Dean Palombi says

    With all of the Mask Mandates and bar closing mandates, the health department had forced my hand to NOT visit Market Square until they quit this foolishness! I will spend my money in Loudon and Blount County. Just had an awesome dinner at Carmichael’s in Loudon last night.

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