Top Ten Downtown Articles for 2022

Aerial View of Caldonia Pass from the Southeast
Brass Pearl, 24 Market Square, Knoxville, February 2022

In the end, for all the other diversions, readers of this website want to read about business and development. Of the top twenty-five most read articles this year, fifteen were about businesses, and eight were about development. Two, very oddly, were about the school board, which will likely never happen again.

As always, business closures draw a large readership. Six of the business articles in the top 25, including the most read article of the year, were about closures. The most read article last year was also about closures. I’m not sure what that says, but it has been true from the beginning. Five articles from this year ranked among the twenty-five most read of all time on the website.

  1. Brass Pearl to Open in Late February at 24 Market Square (January, 8,697 views)

There can get to be a similarity to the menus of the restaurants that open locally. This one is very different from other downtown restaurants. With its fresh oysters on the half-shell and connections to other downtown favorite restaurants (Stock and Barrel and Chivo), this one caught people’s attention and by all appearances has been very successful.

Pairing Event, Future Home of Alchemy Lounge and Cigar Bar, 119 South Central Street, Knoxville, February 2022 (Photo Courtesy of Brooke Phillips)
  1. Cigar Lounge and Specialty Bourbon Bar Coming to the Old City (February, 9,852 views)

Unique concepts will win the day and downtown currently has no cigar bar. This one promised to be very different from anything we’ve ever had, as far as I know, adding a very upscale spot to the Old City. As far as I know, it is still coming but, obviously, it’s taken a lot longer than anticipated. Alchemy Lounge and Cigar Bar was intended to open in May of last year.

  1. Fly By Night Bringing the 70s to South Knoxville (October, 9,949 views)

Another unique concept guaranteed to make those of us of a certain age feel, well, our certain age. The music of our youth has now become a theme for a bar. Knowing what we know about owners Ryan Shanley and Jocelyn Morin, the spot will be happening both for those time traveling and for those of us who never really left the era. Given what they’ve done for 50s tiki bars with their delightful Tern Club, this will, no doubt, be special.

The Bark, 601 Lamar Street, Knoxville, July 2022
  1. The Bark to Open in Fourth and Gill (March, 10,174 views)

Knoxville continues to be a puppy place, a canine city, and a doggy destination. We love our pups and now this unique concept caters to those furry friends – and their owners. Part dog park, part bar with support animals, it’s its own thing and it’s been a hit out the gate. If you don’t own a dog, don’t want to own a dog, but enjoy hanging out with other people’s dogs, it’s a perfect spot for you.

The Holistic Connection, 716 S. Gay St., Knoxville, August 2022
  1. The Holistic Connection, Cannabis Store, Coming to 716 South Gay Street (May, 11,183 views)

When I started this website in 2010, I never imagined I would write an article about a pot store opening on Gay Street. These guys seem to be trying to do it right (growing their own organic plants) and it certainly drew a lot of interest out the gate. For those who still think this is a CBD store, understand, these products are about getting high. It’s an amazing thing and, of course, they are prepping for when the laws change, and the doors swing wide open.

Harvest, 141 South Gay Street, Knoxville, September 2022
  1. Two Downtown Businesses Shutter, Harvest Opening Location on Gay Street (April, 12,645 views, #25 All Time on the Website)

Here’s a rare closure/opening article and it drew the predictable amount of interest. One closure was of a business that didn’t last long and the other was simultaneously being replaced by a new concept by its owners. That’s typically the way downtown business changes have rolled for years: A few businesses leave and are replaced by far more businesses, many of whom have a better concept or business model. I used to include at the end of each year a survey article of businesses that closed and open, just to show how one-sided the equation has been. If anything, it is truer now than at any point in the past.

This is the article that gets into serious numbers for my website, being among the top twenty-five out of thousands of articles.

Rendering of Vision Apartments, 501 E. Hill Avenue, Knoxville, November 2022
  1. Former Marriott to Become Vision Apartments; Funding Requested (November, 13,020 views, #21 All Time on the Website)

Here’s a great example of something that pops up on my radar (thanks to a friend in this case) and I quickly get out the information I have, resulting in a massive readership the next day. I spent many more hours of work and planning on large numbers of articles that hardly got noticed. It always fascinates me. I’m thankful for these little gifts along the way.

Of note, as a follow up, the group covered in this article withdrew their request for funding. Maybe one of your comments was the tipping point.

Laurence Faber and Emily Williams, Potchke Deli, 318 North Gay Street, Knoxville, March 2022
  1. Potchke Deli Officially Opens Tomorrow (March, 13,385 views, #19 All Time on the Website)

If readers or downtown residents were asked which single downtown development made their lives better this year, Potchke Deli would probably be mentioned as much as anything. Owners Emily Williams and Laurence Faber have an excellent story to tell as they brought their concept to life in the former Regas Restaurant space. It’s a great example of the right concept for a space will work and it has been a tremendous success.

Originally planned as a transitional idea, the place is packed whenever it is open and has never wavered. The most stunning piece of Knoxville-related writing for the year, may just be the New York Times profile of our very own Jewish Deli. Who would have ever seen that coming? Also deserving a special shout-out are partners Brian and Jessica Strutz, who not only continue serving up the wonder that is A Dopo Pizza, but also joined forces to help make Potchke a reality.

Aerial View of Caldonia Pass from the Southeast
  1. Major New Development Will Reconnect the Fabric of Downtown (April, 13,402 views, #18 All Time on the Website)

This one drew lots of discussion, pro and con, and the readership to go along with that conversation. It makes me happy to be able to write an article about the 200 block finally being redeveloped and for the article to have wide readership. I’ve written about and mentioned the missing block many, many times over the last dozen years and I’m glad I got to make it to the point that something other than a parking lot is planned.

Not only did this missing block damage the downtown grid, it also has presented a visual obstacle (as well as an unappealing pedestrian crossing) that damaged the success of businesses on the 100 block for decades. For those who may not know the history of the parking lot, it was under contract to remain a parking lot for fifty years. That we can talk about development there is one of the best pieces of news I’ve ever shared.

Central Depot, 103 W. Depot, Knoxville, December 2017
  1. One Downtown Business Closes and Another is Sold (November, 16,333 views, #8 All Time on the Website)

I’m not completely sure why this article took off to the point of becoming one of the ten most read articles of all time. Maybe it’s just the algorithmic magic of social media that somehow swept it up into the world of shares, hashtags, and likes. The business that closed was a simple bar that had been around for a few years, hardly an institution. It has now been replaced by another bar. The business that sold did have a beloved (if cantankerous) owner, but it continued. Who knows?

And so, 2022 is in the books and 2023 looms. What will be the great stories of the coming year? We’ll soon know. I do know there will be lots of openings, continuing development news, and, I’ll bet, more than a few surprises.