The Local Smokey to Open in the Former Free Service Tire Building

The Local Smokey, June 2023
The Local Smokey, June 2023

In the fall, I spoke with John MacCready about his latest development at Whist Court. While there, we took a detour over to the former Free Service Tire Building also owned by MacCready’s group, and I got a first glimpse of an upcoming restaurant. After long months of planning and preparing, The Local Smokey is opening!

The Local Smokey, June 2023

Co-Owners and family Brantley Diggs, Mike Ledbetter, and Michael Ledbetter pooled resources and ideas to bring a family-friendly sports bar to Magnolia Ave. They chose this location specifically to help continue to encourage development “across the bridge.” As lifelong Vols fans, they are season ticket holders and travel to many away games. After spending time in a sports bar in Gainesville in 2021, they decided to combine the elements they appreciated in a sports bar and a family friendly-restaurant to one spot in Downtown Knoxville. Cue the creation of The Local Smokey.

Early photo of the interior of The Local Smokey provided by Brantley Diggs, Fall 2022

The Local Smokey, June 2023

For the interior, they did their best to preserve history inside the building. They refinished the concrete floors, painted the ceiling, and left the exposed brick walls, leaving as much of the original materials as possible. Pinnell Construction did their demo and build-out work. The 7,500 sq ft space is open with multiple high-top tables, regular-height tables, and bar seating where they can accommodate up to 300 customers. Brantley and Michael have young children, and it was important that the space be a family-friendly environment. One of the ways they did that was to include bar height booster chairs so families with little ones aren’t limited to where they can sit in the restaurant.

The Local Smokey, June 2023

They have included a stage for small performances, such as live music and comedy. There are five pool tables, 26 TVs, cornhole, and darts for game time. And there are two bars-a 360-degree liquor bar and a 24-tap beer-only bar. Their bar is ADA-accessible. They plan to have traditional well-liquor drinks, limited availability of wine, and plenty of seltzers, ciders, and nonalcoholic beverages.

The Local Smokey, June 2023

Customers will order food through a QR code (Toast App) and pick it up through the pass-through window. Check out the menu HERE. Servers will be available inside, but there will be no service outside, though you can order and take it out. The outdoor patio area (in the alley next to the bar and restaurant) will have additional tables and cornhole set up under lighting strung atop the space for evenings, but it also remains shaded throughout the day, making it comfortable in most seasons.

The Local Smokey, June 2023
The Local Smokey, June 2023

While some things are still to be decided regarding events and promotions, they have taken their time to consider what will be the most successful for the restaurant and the surrounding area. You can expect to see all Vols games broadcast, pay-per-view events, after-parties for concertgoers to the Mill and Mine, and more. You can join their Beer Club HERE to get updates, weekly specials, and upcoming drafts.

Though none of the owners have restaurant-specific experience, they have plenty of management experience. Mike contributes over 30 years of management himself. The trio had mentors and coaches along the way providing advice and encouragement, and they are confident in making this venture a success. The soft opening will be this month with beer only as they await their liquor license.

I see tons of potential for The Local Smokey. More and more businesses are opening on that side of the city, and there is a ton to look forward to. The city broke ground on the stadium project yesterday. The ball is officially rolling, for better or worse. I’m betting on better. The Local Smokey wants to be known as the best downtown bar, grill, and game experience. Give them a visit, and let me know what you think!

Stay updated on their website for information on their upcoming Grand Opening.

The Local Smokey

404 Williams Street Northwest, Knoxville, Tennessee 37917



Monday- Thursday: 11am – 12am

Friday- Sunday : 11am – 2am

Happy Hour (Weekday) 5pm – 8pm

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