The Ale' Rae Grill, 937 N. Broadway, Knoxville, December 2021
David Goldschmitt and his daughters Allie and Rachel Goldschmidt have opened Ale’ (pronounced “Alley,” like Allie) Rae (Short for Rachel — spotting a pattern?) Grill, a music-centered gastropub, at 937 North Broadway, which some of you may remember as the previous location of the Three River’s Market. Open just three weeks, Ale’ Rae Grill will host a grand opening party this Friday.
David is from Pennsylvania, and grew up out west, but landed in Knoxville with his family while he was still in high school in the 1990s. They had family in the area and that drew them here. He said moving south was a big transition, but he graduated from Central High School and made a life here, raising a family. Both daughters graduated from Powell High School.
A gifted athlete, David played soccer semi-professionally, though he also played various instruments in bands, worked as an artist, and enjoyed carpentry. He settled into coaching soccer and realized he had a real talent for teaching those skills. He coached for twenty years, working with local players from all over the world. He’d have whole teams into his home, and they’d join the family for meals he would prepare. He began to incorporate some of their favorite spices from Africa and elsewhere into the dishes he made.
When Allie, who was then a student at Carson Newman, and a member of the soccer team, suffered a catastrophic injury and had to quit the sport, she moved home and commuted to college. David began to re-evaluate his relationship to the sport and began considering a shift in focus. “When she couldn’t compete anymore, I looked at my future a little differently.” He felt he was ready for a change.
Allie majored in business administration. “I went to Carson Newman to play soccer and chose a degree while I was there . . . My entire life we were on the soccer field . . . I had four surgeries on one knee and that ended.” She returned home at about the same time David was realizing the sports complex he was running was not working and he was considering shifting toward a culinary direction. “He’s cooked for all of us our entire life. We fed soccer teams, we had families . . .”
David said, “Her coming back and devoting herself to that part of the business was probably what made me stop and say, ‘Now I’m going to do it.'” He said he’d always been a one person show and had trouble letting go of control, but she offered him the opportunity to trust her to do what she does well.
She returned in 2016 and by 2017 they were looking at purchasing a food truck. Rachel was still in high school (she graduated in 2020), but she joined in the effort and has been a part of it from the beginning. She is a student at UT in nutrition, following somewhat in their mother’s career path in a medical profession.
David was running a sports complex and had added more food and gotten a beer license to draw in more adult teams, but the effort was a struggle and didn’t offer much in terms of a financial return. They learned lessons from the concessions that they could transfer to a food truck and began that operation. It made more money than the sports complex and they began to see it as the primary focus, launching it in November 2017 as many other food trucks shut down for the season.
They saw a lot of struggles but learned to deal with obstacles and make the business a success. Rachel said the food truck was good preparation for the brick and mortar they are now opening. David likened it to “training with resistance,” in other words making it work in the hardest circumstance makes it easier when the worst circumstance (operating out of a truck) is removed.
“Because our truck has done so well, (we felt) brick and mortar is easy for us.” They were able to save money they could put into a permanent location. They’ve shut the food truck down for this winter and brought the staff into the new place. They may do a few events but expect to get it back in service next spring.
As for the food, he said the choices were easy: He would cook for people the things he likes to eat. “I’m a food snob. I grew up with a mother that could cook from nothing. We were so poor.” But he said there was always something great on the table for the nine members of the German-Italian family. He said even as a child he admired the flavors she brought to their table.
As the years passed and he became involved in coaching, he says, “I was cooking for twenty-six nationalities if you add all the years up . . . I would take something and twist it my way . . . that’s where it came from . . . I took a lot of the flavorings of where my kids grew up in Africa, the Middle East.” They would bring him seasonings and he would incorporate them. The whole family became very invested in great food. He said he had a testing group of hundreds of teenagers, and they loved his food.
They have adapted their processes to make food in larger quantities. He’s developed fifty sauces he enjoys, for example, and realized he had to streamline the number of items and the methods of preparations. The food and beer menus will be very simple at the restaurant. There are six taps and decisions must be made. They also have applied for a liquor license and will have a small, carefully chosen selection. Excellent coffee is also on the list, but their espresso machine is held up, so that will also have to wait. “My standard of quality just can’t change.”
When it came time to focus on a permanent location, Allie said, “We wanted to create a venue, not just a restaurant . . . music was such a big part of Dad’s life, and we grew up with that.”
They made the decision in late 2019 to leave the sports complex. They had worked the Happy Holler, Fourth and Gill area and loved the Old City and downtown, so they looked first on Broadway. They spotted the building, owned by Parker Bartholomew, that was falling in on itself. David knew it was the one right away. His inner artist could imagine what the space could be. Parker became a great partner who believed in what they are doing.
They worked through the early months of the pandemic while he allowed them to work on the build out prior to beginning the lease. “He said he just knew we were the right people. He was a godsend.”
They said they didn’t simply want a restaurant, but a “social pub,” or a gastropub. They are incorporating things they love like great food, cozy spaces, great coffee and beer, and music. They will have as much live music as possible, and they’ve invested in a sound system to make it special. There are televisions, but they will largely show concert videos. There is also music memorability on some walls. A beer garden will be constructed outside and the three say there are other great plans. You’ll also find pool and darts.
The interior was constructed by David using virtually all recycled materials. Old doors in the building that were no longer used became the bar, for example. He had a vision, and he describes himself as his own worst critic. The place had to match the vision inside his head. He said that so far people are amazed when they walk inside (I had the same reaction when I walked in.). The venue officially seats 91.
David said it would have never happened if the girls had not “taken the weight off my shoulders and sacrificed, worked a lot of ours, set their lives aside for me to complete this dream. It wouldn’t have happened.” Of the concept he said, “Music and food have one connection for me and it is memories.” That’s what he wants to create in the new space. You can find the full menu here.
There is parking outside the venue and the gastropub is open Wednesday through Sunday starting at 11:00 am. It closes at 9:00 pm each night except Friday and Saturday when it is open until 11:00 pm. This Friday will be the official grand opening with regular hours and operation until 6:00 pm. Doors will open at 7:00 pm for a ticketed show ($10 at the door) for Josiah and the Great Good.
They are also hiring all positions (email@example.com or 865-924-2426).