Top Ten Downtown Knoxville Articles for 2023

Owners Jason and Vanesse Chau, Angry Dumplings, 1119 Suite A Sevier Avenue, Knoxville, June 2023
Stir, 217 Willow Avenue, Knoxville, July 2023

So many topics come and go on this website. With around 300 articles each year the most popular threads might be obscured, but year after year, it’s all about the business and development news. I could double readership if a business or new development would open or be announced each day. We have tons of openings (several coming shortly) and announcements, but not every day or even every week. And closings? If digital copies were paper, I might run out before readers finished.

Looking at the top twenty-five posts this year, the theme is clearly business, with twenty-two of the top stories about businesses opening or closing. Some articles from this year launched into the top stories of all-time on the website. Closures continue to rule. I’m not sure why. Let’s take a look at what you read the most.

10. Stir Opens in the Old City (Urban Guy, August, 10,537 views, #53 All Time)

This the first year that 10,000 views would land a story outside the top ten (#12). Stir engendered so much interest that it landed at both #12 and #10. The restaurant, popular in Chattanooga and backed by the folks who bring you Balter, created quite a buzz locally. The fact that it opened in a new building (Stockyard Lofts developed by Leigh Burch and Daniel Smith) certainly made the story better for me and perhaps others, as it expanded downtown’s commercial footprint. Mostly, I think people were simply excited for another good food option.

The Local Smokey, June 2023

9. The Local Smokey to Open in the Former Free Service Tire Building (Heather Ryerson, June, 10,773 views, #50 All Time)

More business, more food. I think the sports angle on this one caught people’s attention and the fact that it brought long-awaited development news to a spot that had long been in line for occupancy. Former industrial and similar type buildings are being filled along a corridor (Magnolia, the Interstate, an area known for years for a large homeless population) that many of us thought would never support businesses. Guess what?

Marble City Market, Knoxville, March 2023 (Photo by Heather Ryerson)

8. Marble City Market Introduces Major Changes (Heather Ryerson, March, 11,178 views,#46 All Time)

An endless source of speculation accompanied by no shortage of strong opinion, this project has seen its share of extreme optimism and pessimism. The changes mentioned here intended to right the ship, but the changes were changed again by the end of the year, with this management team leaving. A virtually new lineup now occupies the space and the optimists among us hope this will be the winning combination. The site really needs a win. Could Big Ears be the impetus this year if marketed properly? Will it be the stadium when it arrives? Here’s wishing them the best 2024.

7. Progress: Kern’s Bakery Experience is Full Steam Ahead (Heather Ryerson, May, 12,267 views, #37 All Time)

In retrospect this seems like a bit of an optimistic take, though the article indicated a winter opening and the last I heard, that is still what they anticipate. I’m not sure why food halls have had such a rough start here when they do very well elsewhere, but maybe this is the year. This one has so much potential, with the historic and beloved building and business it housed, the proximity to so much new housing, and the connection to the new trail, that success seems likely. It just needs to open.

71 South, 3726 Sevier Heights Road, Knoxville, April 2023

6. 71 South Restaurant Opens at Baker Creek Bottoms (Urban Guy, April, 12,346 views, #35 All Time)

This one surprised me a bit (that isn’t rare). I expected some interest, but figured it might be a bit less because it isn’t downtown, but rather in one of the near downtown areas that I cover. I’m not sure why it struck such a chord. Maybe it’s the chef? Maybe it’s the proximity to the Urban Wilderness? In any case, it is in a very cool spot, both near the wilderness and inside a previous church sanctuary, and maybe that impacted readership. It also has good food, so there is that. If you haven’t already, check it out.

5. Favorite South Knoxville Restaurant, Simpl, Closes (And That’s Good News) (Urban Guy, July, 13,656 views, #25 All Time)

Simpl, as well as Chef Kendale Ball, has lots of fans and maybe that is what drove this one. It does fall into the category of closures, though this one has an asterisk — it’s opening with a slightly different concept in a new location. Maybe it was the clever title that invited clicks. I’m not often clever that way. Whatever the reason, it elicited a large response. I hope the response is as large when I announce the opening of the new location. In the meantime, check out the food at Five and Hoek and you’ll find a warmly comforting similarity.

Owners Jason and Vanesse Chau, Angry Dumplings, 1119 Suite A Sevier Avenue, Knoxville, June 2023

4. Angry Dumplings Opens on the South Side (Urban Guy, July, 13,942 views, #24 All Time)

I think I get the excitement for this one. The food varies from most anything available nearby and the back story of Jason (Phu) Chau is about as good a story as I’ve uncovered. The food is absolutely amazing. As I understand it, they ran into some trouble over ownership of the name and I’ve seen “Dumpling Tea Knoxville” and “Phu Dumplings and Tea,” so I’m not sure, but you can definitely find them at 1119 Sevier Avenue, and I’d encourage you to do just that. You won’t be sorry.

Yee-Haw Brewing Co., 745 N. Broadway, Knoxville, January 2023

3. Yee-Haw Brewing Officially Opens Tomorrow (Urban Guy, February, 17,564 views, #9 All Time)

I’m not sure if it is the popularity of the brand or the fact that this opening was discussed for two years, but the excitement certainly bubbled to the top as the business finally got off the ground. Since, there has  been some discontent over parking in the surrounding neighborhoods and some about the noise, but the excitement was clear from the beginning. The fact that it landed at number eleven and number three on the list says it all. That would be unprecedented if not for the fact that another business did even better on the list . . .

2. Announcing Kern’s Bakery Vendors! (Heather Ryerson, May, 19,961 views, #7 All Time)

That’s right . . . Kerns put two stories in the top seven. I’m pretty sure that has never happened before. And they haven’t yet opened. If they can manage to open soon enough, the roof might just fly off the place. I notice on their website that some of the vendors listed in the article are gone and new ones have added and that really isn’t a surprise given how long it has taken to get open — some people just can wait that long. I suspect it’s going to be pretty amazing once it is open. And I expect to see the article announcing the opening to be on this list next year.

OliBea, 211 South Central Street, Knoxville, February 2020

1. Two Downtown Businesses Announce Closures in June (Urban Guy, June, 26,085 views, #2 All Time)

The two businesses in question, Geezers Brewing and Oli Bea, certainly had their fans and that may account for some of the response. As I mentioned before, closure articles tend to draw a lot of attention. I used to have to explain that it didn’t mean downtown was failing or closing up shop, but I think we all know that now. Five of the top eight stories of all time involve closures, including the top one. I do miss Oli Bea, but it closed because its owner was ready for something different. Geezers may be the first of a shakeout of breweries that we may have been overdue for a while.

So, there you have it. Another year in the books and a new year waiting to surprise us. I’m excited to see what the coming year brings and we are loading up articles already to get us popping into the new year. Stick around for the fun.