Fly By Night, 906 Sevier Avenue, Knoxville, June 2023
Last October I reported a new business flying toward south Knoxville. The good news owners Ryan Shanley and Jocelyn Morin have built the nest and Fly by Night is ready to soar at 906 Sevier Ave, Suite 216. (I’ll let go of the bird metaphor at this point. Thanks for humoring me!) South Knoxville’s first craft cocktail location (though with a fun twist), offers a completely different nighttime option for that side of the river.
The couple opened Tern Club (reported here with their backstory) over three years ago, and as that has thrived (despite a certain wide-spread illness that hit months after they opened), they’ve turned their attention to opening another concept that speaks to a different era than the Tern Club’s 1950s Tiki nod. The new business bears down hard-core on the 1970s, complete with disco balls, vinyl parties, and those classic drinks of the era (only good, this time!).
Wanting to produce a new concept, the couple began looking for a spot in South Knoxville and when they found the spot, the concept presented itself. Jocelyn said, “The way that we’ve looked at conceptualizing a new business has been space dependent. Looking at places and imagining what would make sense there is something we’ve been doing since day one. An opportunity presented itself in south Knoxville and that’s where the idea for Fly By Night was born.” Ryan added that they sensed a gap in the area for a “late-night, cocktail-focused bar.”
Ryan previously told me, “When we were thinking of concepts, being transported is always in our minds, so that when you walk in you feel like you are being taken to a different era, different time, different place. They signed a lease in August 2021, but getting open has taken a bit longer than they’d hoped and has been more complicated than opening Tern Club. Even as recently as last October they hoped to open in January. Close, but a different month starting with “J.”
I dropped in last week to see the beautiful space and have a final chat with the couple. The space looks beautiful, as you can see, and it is like a time warp to walk through the doors. The last time I was in a space like this, I had sweaty palms and hoped they wouldn’t ask for ID (they didn’t back in that day, but do now, isn’t it ironic?). The couple has curated an amazing atmosphere of vintage furnishings and set pieces and we already know what they can do with cocktails.
They’ve been collecting items for two years, through Facebook Market Place, estate sale, and thrift stores. They had particular items in mind that they wanted, like “Chromcraft table and chair sets . . . making sure we were able to give five same but different sets.” The tables and chairs look so perfect they could have come off a 1960s or 1970s sales floor, but they are vintage and have not been re-covered. Jocelyn took to them with “white vinegar and Murphy’s Oil Soap,” and got them ready to go.
A couch and chairs came from South Carolina. They have working TVs on their “TV Wall,” including one that they know came from the J.C. Penney Store on Gay Street when it was opened. Now all they need is someone to step in who knows how to make these old TVs get reception. Ryan said they enjoy the search and that you can expect to see the collection grow. They’ve nailed the details down to the period wallpaper, paneling, and shag area rugs.
Jocelyn said they have also added “a substantially larger wine list than what we have at Tern Club, with a focus on more natural, esoteric grapes.” Ryan added that another big difference from Tern Club is that “Fly By Night is more of an event-oriented space, doing DJ sets, drag shows, and being able to host more events.” Vinyl nights will be a part of the fun and they been collecting the records.
They are excited to open tonight, June 8, for their Grand Opening in time to get a little practice run before they expect to be slammed on Saturday, the major celebration (8,000 to 10,000 people last year) on Sevier Avenue, for SoKno Pride, happening all along Sevier Avenue. On Saturday, you can expect a drag show at the bar and lots more fun. The couple laughed and said that only two days after opening, “that will probably be our biggest night of the year.”
They’ve got staff lined up to start off running, with a bigger back-of-house staff because the food menu is a bit larger than Tern. Jocelyn said they learned a great deal about what to expect the first time around. “When we opened Tern Club, we were such a small crew because we didn’t know how busy we were going to be. This time around we’ve prepared a little bit better.” The food menu will include “shrimp cocktail, wedge salad, cheese board,” and more. Jocelyn said, true to the theme, the menu will have “a bit of a nostalgic vibe to it.” She described the new wine listings as “interesting, funky, and affordable.”
Regular hours start out the gate and include Sunday 2:00 pm to midnight, Tuesday and Wednesday 4:00 pm to Midnight, and Thursday, Friday, Saturday, 4:00 pm to 2:30 am. They are closed on Mondays. This Saturday, June 10:00 they will open at noon due to the onset of the festival. Take off work early and be the first to arrive when they open the doors at 4:00 pm today.