Counter at Vienna Coffee House Constructed by McGilvray Woodworks, Knoxville, May 2018
The list of businesses closing in the last two years has been remarkably short. Given the normal ebb-and-flow of business openings and closures being overlaid with a pandemic, it is truly remarkable. During the same run, we’ve had dozens of businesses open. Still, a lot of businesses have suffered and the closures may not have shaken out all the way.
Of the two businesses announcing closures, only one, Vienna Coffee (only the downtown location), said that their closure is related to the pandemic. Here’s the statement from the company:
Watauga Coffee Company and Vienna Coffee are sad to announce the permanent closing of the Vienna Coffee at The Regas Building. The Pandemic’s impacts on staffing and customer traffic continue to plague businesses all over East Tennessee and we are no exception. We appreciate those of you who embraced our business at this location for almost four years and became part of the community in this space . . .
Vienna Coffee Company will continue to operate its Wholesale business and its branded coffeehouses in Maryville, Oak Ridge and our newest location opening this month at Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley campus. John Clark, Vienna’s President added, “Look for exciting announcements about the new location soon. We look forward to serving the PSTCC community the same delicious coffees and Espresso beverages you’ve come to expect from us.
Vienna Coffee offered the widest range of food of any of the coffee houses in the downtown area and that will likely be the greatest loss to the center city. With soups, sandwiches, baked goods and more, it was a place to have a meal while enjoying good coffee. It likely suffered from being the farthest out of what would be considered the primary downtown area.
I had coffee with a friend last week and I was surprised when I listed the possible places we could meet, including Java Old City, Mahalo, K Brew, Jacks (on the 100 Block of Gay), and Status Dough. I didn’t mention either Starbucks location. There are other places that aren’t exactly coffee houses, but have good coffee, as well. We are a pretty caffeinated bunch.
The other business to announce its closure is The Bloomers Company florists. Their downtown closure has more to do with how their business has evolved than anything else. Located in the Medical Arts Building on Main Street, I don’t think they ever really depended on walk-up service. Many readers may have never passed by or noticed it. Here’s their statement:
Tomorrow marks the end of a fun little journey. As many of you know we joined with Crouch Florist two years ago, and we were able to broaden our horizon and expand our clientele. We will be closing our store downtown and combining with the Crouch Florist location on Amherst Rd. We will miss you downtown Knoxville, but fear not! We are only a hop, skip, and jump away! If you ever walk by our windows and miss the pups, come visit us at our new home and stay tuned to Crouch for more fun things to come! Go forth and BLOOM!
While there are florists close to downtown, notably on Chapman Highway and Broadway, as well as the new location of The Flower Pot on Washington Avenue, this marks the closure of the second downtown florist in just the last year, and none are now located in the heart of downtown. We do have plants for purchase at Jack’s. It seems like an opportunity for the right business.
I’m not sure we need a full-service florist, as a phone call or a few clicks online will get flowers delivered anywhere. The spot I see is for a $10 flower cart offering fresh flowers-to-go, with a selection like Trader Joes and similarly priced. The Flower Pot used to have carry-out flowers like that and we bought them. I’m not sure it is a whole business for someone (although a colorful flower cart on Market Square would be awesome!), but perhaps a part of a business.
This also leaves us with two spaces available in the downtown area, where spaces are at a premium. Each of them would require the right kind of business to fit the spot. The Regas Building is set up for a restaurant, while the Medical Arts Building location also needs the right fit. Ideas, anyone?