Simpl opened almost four years ago at 1120 Sevier Avenue. South Knoxville was just beginning to take off and the restaurant offered one of a very few elevated dining experiences. Owner and chef Kendale Ball brought his growing reputation to the endeavor and the business thrived. So why is it closing and why would I suggest that is good news?
Via social media this announcement went out about a week ago:
The past 4 years have been fun, and we love everyone we have met along the way, but it is time for this chapter of Simpl to close. We will be changing concepts and moving to a new location (more details to come soon). This was a hard choice, but we are not the same people we were when this journey started. We want to be able to spend more time as a family and hopefully a less stressful day to day so Kendale can take care of his health. Our last day will be August 13, so come get your Simpl fix before then! Let us know what favorites you would like to see on the menu!
The first bit of good news is obvious from the above: While closing this location, Simpl will re-emerge. Kendale tells me the new concept will be in South Knoxville and will include breakfast and lunch foods but will not offer evening dining. We get to keep Simpl, but Kendale gets to take care of himself and spend more time with his growing family, while living a healthier life than one which includes working from very early to very late every day. We should see the new location and concept open within the next two to three months.
There have been changes for both Kendale and his family, some difficult, and others wonderful. They lost a child during these last four years, but now have a beautiful daughter, who is now one year old. Kendale, because of an injury he sustained as a long-distance runner, has medical complications involving his hip and is on his seventh surgery, five since he opened the restaurant, which includes a new hip. He also had shoulder surgery. The hip made it impossible to be on his feet a dozen or more hours a day, and their daughter made it difficult to be away from home for that many hours. His priorities have changed. “Being at home with her and watching her grow up is the most important thing to me.”
He said the great staff helped the restaurant make it through the months he couldn’t work after the surgeries. He said they have been supportive of his decision, and they were given a thirty-day notice to have time to find jobs. The new location will have fewer employees, from about twenty employees to about “five or six,” but you may see some familiar faces among them.
But there is even more good news: The current location is already taken by an tenant who is very excited to step into the location (hopefully more on that later). This gives another entrepreneur a shot at a nice brick and mortar location, while also providing food for patrons of Alliance Brewing, located next door. They have a great common patio which allows mixing good brews and good food an easy matter. Kendale said, “I’m excited it’s going to be in good hands. I think they will provide a lot of value to the community.”
During the interim, if you want your Kendale fix, he’ll be doing some popups. He’ll have one at Five and Hoek Coffee Co. (200 W. Magnolia) in the Old City on August 5. On August 19 he expects to do a pop-up at Tree Top coffee in Sequoyah Hills. He’s gotten great support he says from area businesses for the current location and he’s getting lots of support and encouragement regarding the new concept.
“Business has always been really good for us. The community has always been here to support us. We’ve got a good clientele. Business is great, but at the end of the day I have to do what is best for my family.” He feels this change will allow him to do that. “I’ve loved seeing South Knoxville grow and I’ve loved being a part of that and I’m still going to be a part of it, just in a different fashion.
The current location will close August 13. Watch for announcements about the new opening both here and on the Simpl social media channels (all of which will remain the same – Facebook, the website (which will change, but you’ll be redirected from this link), and Instagram.