Marble City Market, Knoxville, March 2023 (Photo by Heather Ryerson)
(Today’s article is by guest writer Heather Ryerson.)
Marble City Market Food Hall has had many ups and downs since its opening in November 2021. Many wondered how they could survive multiple changes in vendors and a total change in management. I sat down with one of the management team from local company, Moody Foods’ Inc., Ashley Moody, to discuss the food hall’s progress and future.
Ashley and Paul Moody took over managing the food hall in October 2022. They also own one of only two original vendors from the beginning of the project, Smash Burger Knox. Seoul Brothers is the other original vendor, and they have additionally opened Hong’s Kitchen in Pretentious Beer. While hearing only 2 of the original 9 or so food vendors remain may sound like a negative, you will see a healthy reinvigoration of the environment with full food stalls and customers when you walk in today.
Since our last report, MCM has opened:
Kati Roll Wala Indian Street Food: “Kati Roll Wala is an authentic Indian concept offering cuisine composed of Indian street food staples such as Kati Rolls and Rice Bowls. Focused on a convenient grab-and-go format with top quality fares by restoring simplicity to your meals without sacrificing flavor.” This stall has become a crowd favorite.
Reagan’s Lobster, a Moody Foods Inc. concept, serves up classic Maine and Connecticut Lobster Rolls and lobster mac n cheese. It’s a great place to get that seafood fix fast! This is their second location for Reagan’s. Their first opened in Omaha, NB in October 2021.
Chick-N-Sack is owned and operated by former professional basketball player turned chicken entrepreneur James “Boo” Jackson and his mother, Kim. Jackson began his culinary journey selling his Ktown Krack wing dust and eventually opened his food truck. He opened in MCM in December 2022 and is serving chicken wings, tenders, and fries with positive energy under their signature yellow and red logo.
Sarah Lutts of Awaken Coffee owns Hot Shot Knox Coffee and co-owns Awaken Coffee. I had the opportunity to chat with Sarah recently about her business expansion in MCM and plans for the future. The coffee shop opens at 8am on weekdays and Saturdays and 9am on Sundays. This is a departure from the food stall vendor hours of 11am-9pm. Hot Shot Knox offers delicious and creative drinks and can make your Awaken favorite by request, but their goal is to kick it up a notch with Hot Shot Knox and offer beautiful drinks with unique toppings and give/ lots of photo ops for you to share your latest find with friends.
Lutts’ daughter Abbey manages the shop and brings a fresh perspective to the mix. Their 1950s flare is eye-catching and fun, with the signature pink pop of color everywhere you look! I enjoyed a chocolate-covered strawberry mocha with pink sugaring and conversation hearts on top. A crowd favorite is the bourbon caramel latte. Check regularly for drink specials. They plan to serve cookies from Murmur Cookies soon and carry other baked goods in addition to their grab-and-go breakfast items.
Chapulines Street Tacos opened its 3rd location in MCM. Located first in Maryville and Alcoa, Chapulines already had a solid following and an established menu. The food is outstanding, made with care, and they have one of the tastiest and most unique Cuban Tortas I’ve ever had.
Kianga’s Kitchen is serving up vegan soul food at the market. They began with a catering business and, last fall, launched a bid to move to MCM. According to their GoFundMe campaign, “Kianga is the middle name of their mother, Nkechi Kianga Ajanaku. She envisioned opening a vegan restaurant to promote a plant-based diet that is not just good for you but delicious.
Kianga’s Kitchen started as an African/ soul food catering service led by Nkechi Kianga Ajanaku. She was known for her sweet potato cheesecake and her southern greens, cooked without animal products. In 2017 Nkechi Kianga Ajanaku passed away. Her passing devastated our family and community. A year later, her youngest son Tor Ajanaku and his Wife, Romoke Ajanaku, decided to continue Nkechi Kianga Ajanaku’s dream by Launching Kianga’s Kitchen as a Vegan catering business and food stand at special events in August 2018.”
Ashley Moody tells me we can look for dessert at the market soon. My sweet tooth is thanking her! She is most proud of the changes that have taken place around Frank and George’s Bar. Far from just some guy’s names chosen randomly, Frank and George were the Regas brothers who began the restaurant that formerly stood on the market grounds and Regas Sq.
The Moody’s have integrated the history of the area and the people who built up Knoxville by adding personality and presence to the space. Large photos around the market will pay tribute to the space as it used to be, connecting the past to the present. You can learn more about the Regas brothers, the building, and their contributions here.
Couches and comfortable chairs have been added for lounging, studying, or catching up over a drink near the coffee shop and Frank and George’s Bar. Outside, additional umbrellas and a patio covering have made it a more visible and comfortable place to enjoy your meal. Patio guests are encouraged to bring their furry pals and hang out.
Soon, passersby will see signs advertising each vendor in the upper window of the market. This will address concerns many have expressed regarding the inability to see what the building is and what it has to offer.
Ordering for pick up or delivery is another way to experience the offerings of the market. You can order directly on their website. They offer options for catering from multiple vendors for your next group gathering, tailgate or party.
MCM is hosting weekly events to entice the community to come out and play! Wednesday night is Trivia Night with Not Rocket Science Trivia. Thursday nights are Motown Thursday with Chick-N-Sack. Get $1 Krack Wings while you listen to a live DJ! $5 Premium Cocktails at Frank & George’s! Every Friday night, you will find live music at Frank and George’s with half-price bottles of wine, and you can enjoy their reinvented drink menu and local beer on draft. The 4th Saturday of each month brings a Pop-Up Shop to the Market where you can find your favorite local artists showing off their creations and find a new favorite to add to your list!