Two Downtown Businesses Announce Closures in June

OliBea, 211 South Central Street, Knoxville, February 2020
Geezers Brewery, 225 East Fifth Avenue, Knoxville, June 2019
It seems that announcements of closures often come in pairs or groups of three. I’ve often grouped them in articles, going back at least to 2014 (without looking, can you remember what was there — in the current locations of Emilia, Oliver Royale, and Tommy Trent’s?) when three Market Square Businesses closed at once. Currently, two businesses posted notice of closure this week, announcing they will close by the end of the month. Together they were in business for almost fourteen years.
Two days ago Geezers Brewery posted the following to their FB page:
The words don’t come easy and no matter how many times you’ve read them, you never think one day you’ll be the one sharing this type of news. That being said, Friday 6/30, Geezers will pour our last pint and close the doors on this chapter. To those who have been with us from the beginning, thank you. To those who have recently found us and shared a pint or two within these walls, thank you. To those who have yet to find us, please make plans to join us over the next couple of weeks for good beer, good company, and good times.
“We all have pain / We all have sorrow / But if we are wise / We know that there’s always tomorrow”
I reached out to them, but was unable to connect before publication of this article. The business opened in 2019 as a physical location, but the owners had been brewing for several years prior to that opening. It’s hard to say what ultimately ends a business, and often it is a combination of reasons. Sometimes personal, non-business reasons are behind a closure.
This marks the first brewery, to my knowledge, to close since the demise of Saw Works (which had its own particular issues), and they remain the only two to close. In an environment where breweries have proliferated rapidly in the last twelve years or so, it’s quite remarkable that most do fine. Even this one had a four-year run. In the not-so-distant past the topic of “how can we support so many . . . ” was a comment about breweries, not hotels. Now the Knoxville Area Brewers Association lists twenty-six area members (including Geezers — though I can think of at least one that isn’t listed), as well as  twelve affiliate members.
Here’s hoping that someone with a complementary vision (food, anyone?) to XUL can open next door and make the spot on Fifth Avenue their own.
OliBea, 211 South Central Street, Knoxville, February 2020
Just about twenty-four hours after the Geezers announcement, OliBea made their call. From their Facebook Page:
It’s been nearly 10 years since Olibea first opened in the Old City. I cannot thank you enough for all your support over the last decade. From our move down the street to COVID survival, you have loved Olibea during its ups and downs. Many of you feel like old friends. Many of you have become friends with me, the Olibea family and my own family. I have cherished so many moments like Biscuit Fest, the Southern Food Alliance and the Old City Long Table. I will forever hold onto the weddings, birthday celebrations and anniversaries where you have asked me to share my love through food.
It’s hard to believe that I have now been a part of the downtown food scene for over 15 years, but now it’s time for my fresh start. If you know me, you know that my family means everything to me. It’s time for me to pour more into my family, so I have decided to close OliBea for now. I am looking so forward to continuing to be a part of our downtown’s growth with the Courtland Group Development and Real Estate. I will still be downtown – just in a new role!
Thank you Knoxville. Thank you to my Olibea family who has been such an important part of our success. Big shout to Alan Hernández for killing it! Love you chef! Big things coming for you!
We will be open through Thursday, June 22nd so come for one last Olibea biscuit and use those gift cards.
I love you, Knoxville! Thank you!
It was nearly nine years ago that I first met Chef Jeffrey Dealejandro. It was on the occasion of the opening of OliBea at their original location, just down the street from their current location at 211 South Central Street. I, as have many of you, fell under the spell of this talented, kind person and his signature laugh. Over the years I’ve enjoyed Long Table meals, breakfast at OliBea, excellent meats from his butcher shop when it was open, and one particular day that I was privileged to enjoy lunch in his home.
I certainly hope that we’ll encounter him at least occasionally at culinary events and be allowed to enjoy his prodigious gifts, once more. He has played no small role in the renaissance of downtown dining that has happened in the last decade.
As he said, he and his family live downtown and in his new role involves the center city, he’ll have lots of involvement in the area. He will bring his real estate talents (he got his license about a year ago) to the Courtland Group operated by his step-father, Jeffrey Nash. I hope to continue reporting on them and their transactions as they continue downtown and nearby development.

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