Rendering of Marble City Market, Regas Square, Knoxville, February 2021
In June 2019, the first residents moved into Regas Square Condominiums. Subsequently, the vast majority of the 101 units have become occupied, with a few remaining units available for purchase (check them out here). Notably, the project included about 20,000 square feet of commercial space. Developers wanted to ensure the right concepts were put into place to fit with the building and the surrounding area. Yesterday, they announced plans for about 75% of the available space starting from the east side of the building at Williams Street.
Marble City Market, a partnership between Regas Property, Hospitality HQ and Cushman and Wakefield will occupy 14,475 square feet of the space. Included will be a food hall concept including eleven carefully curated food vendors and a forty-seat bar. In addition to bar seating, 219 indoor seats will be available, along with 238 outdoor seats. Two Top Golf Swing Suite Simulators will also be included.
Tom Wolf, one of the four partners in Regas Property, said, “Since acquiring the Regas Square block in 2013, it has been our deliberate intention to build on the tradition of this location as ‘The Gathering Place,’” a reference to the original Regas Restaurant. “We are excited to bring Marble City Market to Downtown Knoxville and offer our community a unique dining and entertainment experience unlike anything else in East Tennessee.”
The group is soliciting the region’s most talented chefs to build on the tradition of fine dining established by the Regas family. Mr. Wolf told me that he feels this past year has been “the hardest year for chefs in recent memory and we want to support them. Regas supported great food, Blackberry Farm has done the same more recently and he said the group wants to offer a “fresh start opportunity in a shared economy.”
According to Mr. Wolf, interest has exceeded expectations and they hope to have several announcements to make soon, though they are continuing to accept applications. Hospitality HQ, under the leadership of celebrity chef Akhtar Nawab, is curating chef selection for the project, as they have for similar projects in other cities, such as Inner Rail Food Hall in Omaha, Nebraska, Dr. Murphy’s Food Hall in Chicago, Illinois. Projects are currently underway in Houston, Portland and other locations.
From the press release:
HHQ is dedicated to bringing artisanal food and drink, a convivial atmosphere and genuine hospitality to Marble City Market, as well as providing high quality service at all levels by prioritizing the comfort, safety, and wellbeing of their guests as well as their tenants. Marble City Market will be the first dining establishment in Knoxville designed specifically for a post-COVID environment, featuring enhanced ventilation, generous outdoor seating, and integrated online ordering and contactless pay systems.
Each of the eleven chefs will have a dedicated kitchen and the dining hall will be communal. Costs will be mitigated by a provided point of sales system and back-of-house support provided for all businesses. With front-of-house support shared, personnel expense should largely be limited to employees for each kitchen. The set-up will allow for lower startup costs and for shared promotional and marketing support. Interested culinary professionals should visit regassquare.com/marble-city-market/ to learn more.
Mr. Wolf said that each of the four partners in Regas Property are long-term Knoxville residents who care deeply about the city and have “a passion for service, quality and hospitality.” He said their “driving force is a passion for where we live.”
Construction has begun on the food hall, with an anticipated opening date sometime in mid-to-late summer. He said they are assuming with vaccinations increasing and the virus diminishing that people will be ready to get out like never before, likening it to the roaring 20s of a century ago. In any case, with most seating outdoors along Depot Street, they will be prepared for any eventuality.