Lengthy development projects offer few guarantees. Projections change, delays impact opening dates, and construction finds prompt design changes. In the case of Kern’s Bakery, we see all of this as well as changes in some vendors along the way. This is neither a good nor a bad thing. It is simply part of the process.
Here is the lineup of those signed on the dotted line and working with architects to make their designs come to life. A great mix of local and nonlocal talent is coming to Kerns and a diverse list of food options with a few non-food/drink vendors.
In looking at the list of food vendors, the diversity is intriguing. Traditional Ghanaian cuisine, BBQ, Italian, Boba tea, ice cream, poke’ bowls, sushi, burgers, cookies, and more! Rumor has it we will even see an authentic bakery added to the mix to bring back the nostalgia of that fresh bread aroma. “The Knoxville Chamber of Commerce has been instrumental in their support and the procurement of these vendors,” says Tim Martin of TMA Real Estate, who works closely with each tenant.
For those non-food vendors, patrons can shop at Mae Lee’s Boutique to find an “encouraging space for women to feel comfortable expressing their best selves thru unique and affordable fashion.”
Archer Paper Goods will provide stationery, paper goods, and gifts for young and old.
F45 Training will have a second location inside Kern’s Bakery to add to their Northshore location.
A brand new concept by Lauren Fenske and Jessica Wang called Mellow will open its doors for the first time anywhere inside Kerns. Friends for several years, they decided to “combine their passion and expertise to build a lifestyle brand to serve the gap in affordable, modern home décor and clothing in Knoxville.” Jessica will also be opening her jewelry store, Jessica Wang, in Kern’s She currently has a store in West Town Mall.
Flourish Flowers will offer the same beautiful flowers you have come to expect in their traveling flower truck. I spoke with owner Savannah Pannell about the space she is cultivating and what her followers can expect. She tells me she will keep her flower truck rolling, targeting weekends, festivals, pop-ups, etc., and the West Knox area and her first brick-and-mortar in Fountain City will provide for that area of town. Her husband is a general contractor doing most of the design and work for their space in Kerns.
Several local favorites will be present at Kerns. Awaken Coffee will open its second brick-and-mortar inside Kern’s, taking the family-owned business to 3 shops, including Hot Shot Knox. Owner Sarah Lutts tells me that signing on with food halls has allowed them to expand their business without the high risk that comes with expansion in dedicated brick-and-mortar locations. With things from the internet to landscaping to cleaning bathrooms and company advertising covered by the lessor, vendors can focus on the things that matter most to them — their food and drinks.
Myrtle’s Bakehouse will have a stall and will continue participating in pop-ups and markets around the city. Owner Dustin Cochran is the culinary mind behind T. Ralph’s Burgers. He named this concept after his grandfather in keeping with the family theme of his businesses. Myrtle was the name of Cochran’s grandmother. Dustin says his burgers will be “smash-style that is chef-driven with unique and fun toppings.”
Kern’s will have multiple locations to satisfy those looking for excellent beer, cocktails, moonshine, and bourbon. Monday Night Brewing, from Atlanta, will position its 6th location inside Kern’s Bakery. This group of brewers began as a Monday night Bible study in Atlanta in 2006. By 2011, they knew they had something special going on. 2013 saw their first brewery open, and shortly after, they opened a second Atlanta location. They also have shops in Birmingham, Nashville, and Charlotte. Monday Night Brewing is one of the Top 10 Breweries in America, according to the 2022 U.S. Open Beer Championship. Monday Night Brewing will be an integral operator throughout the food hall, managing five separate venues, including:
A 3,000-sq. ft. tap room with access to a patio and the 7,000-sq. ft. event lawn;
The primary food hall bar that serves patrons inside as well as those at a walk-up counter from the event lawn;
Two rooftop patio bars; and
A small bar near the interior performance stage.
Drop Zone Distilling will have a new and more prominent location here that will serve as a place for brewing, serving, and providing guests with tastings in a unique military-themed space.
A speakeasy concept out of Atlanta is planned with an exciting theme you will not find anywhere else in Knoxville or beyond. Complete with secret entrances and code words, patrons will feel part of something unique and fun. They will also manage a planned bourbon and cigar bar on the 3rd floor and will keep with the history of the Brown family and Kern’s Bakery in their concept.
I spoke with Joseph, owner of Clean Smoke BBQ food truck. The passion he has for his food, production and customers is contagious. He is excited about setting up inside Kerns, but if you can’t wait until then to try his food, follow his social media to find his food truck schedule.
We expect the price points to be similar to other food hall and food truck prices, with enough variation that just about any guest can find something to fit their palate and budget. Approximately 25 spaces have been committed, leaving only 5 to be filled. They are looking for more food varieties. If you or someone you know has a great taco concept, Mediterranean concept, or other unique dining experiences, contact Tim Martin at Tim@TMA-RE.com.
As for access to Kern’s, the city allowed 246 parking spaces on site. They have a working relationship with KISS Caboose, and the city has many other access options, such as rideshares, scooters, bikes, and on foot. With planned access to an Urban Wilderness path, they hope this will become a landing spot for adventure-loving bikers and walkers to take a break and relax. Additionally, Kern’s recently acquired land adjacent to the bakery that will allow for a right of way and pedestrian bridge to go over the rail line. This will give patrons access to the Riverwalk parking garage at 2011 Kay St. That project will not begin immediately. Still, plans are in place to make it happen.
The food hall management will be led by Bridger Properties out of Atlanta. They bring extensive experience working with properties like Kern’s Food Hall and understand the nuances that are involved. Kern’s will bring between 150-200 jobs to its facility, a welcome economic boost.
The biggest question on everyone’s mind is WHEN? They are targeting June/July for vendors to have access to the building to begin their buildouts. They are planning for an early winter opening. We know how those targets can move, so subscribe below and don’t miss updates on this project and others that impact downtown Knoxville.