New opportunities are beginning to blossom throughout Blount County’s retail and restaurant scene. Several existing businesses are changing their hours and services and new businesses are opening.
One of the newest endeavors is The Market, a concept created by realtor/developer Dan Mizell. To say Dan Mizell is invested in downtown Maryville is an understatement. That he has a vision for downtown is more like it.
Mizell has had a hand in several projects in downtown Maryville including developing Harper Street Lofts, founding Horn of Plenty Marketplace and assisting Swanks owners in opening a new jazz club and restaurant and Two Doors Down owners in opening a music club. He owns a former law office downtown and is a member of the Downtown Association and Downtown Review Board.
In mid-July his latest endeavor will be unveiled when the doors to The Market open on High Street at Washington Street. The building will house four separate specialty businesses Mizell compares to an indoor Farmers’ Market.
“What we’re trying to achieve is a high quality, service-oriented market similar to a Farmers’ Market that is open six days a week, 12 months a year,” he said.
Mizell said he was in the produce business 17 years and has always envisioned putting people who are the best at what they do under one roof rather than having one individual own a business while trying to do it all. “Everyone specializes in what they do best, and the customer gets the best product,” he said.
The developer said that in The Market there will be Laurel Creek Meats, owned by a proprietor who only sells organic, antibiotic and hormone-free meats of all types. The Market also will feature Oak Park Dry Goods and Grocery. “They will carry all kinds of dry goods -- everything from jams and jellies to specialty items,” he said.
The Caio Deli, said Mizell, will feature fine imported cheeses, a wide selection of imported beers, gourmet meats and gourmet foods to go.
At Market Fresh Produce, their name is what the business will be -- locally grown produce in-season and with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, Mizell said.
There will also be a fresh seafood marked called Blue Moon Fish Market.
“They will have fresh fish brought in from the coast. It will be a wide variety of seafood. I’m working with a friend in Kodiak, Alaska, to get in King Crabs and Alaskan Halibut,” Mizell said. “We’ll definitely have fresh fish brought in directly from the boats to the table.”
Mizell said he hopes to have a fresh bakery eventually since space is available for one. “Until we secure the right person with the right product for the bakery, the produce market will sell bakery items from local bakers in the area,” he said.
The brick building has 5,000 square feet of space on the first level. Upstairs is an office Mizell plans to use.
The developer said plans for The Market were started about six months ago. Target date for opening is mid-July. “We’re excited about using another historic building in town, cleaning that corner up for that section of Maryville and utilizing the old country store look,” he said. “It gives Maryville something we don’t have - a specialty market.”
The Market will give patrons the opportunity to do one-stop shopping for organic and fine quality food. “Maryville has grown to the point it will support this,” Mizell said. “We’re very excited about our opportunities to serve the residents of Blount County and surrounding area.”
Big Daddy’s Bar and Grill
Big Daddy’s Sports and Biker Bar on U.S. 411 South is what its name says: A sports bar and a biker bar.
Mark Norman and his dad, Royce Norman, got out of the marina business and built a bar that reflected what they each loved. They remodeled the facility that became their bar from the ground up.
“It had four walls with insulation,” Mark Norman said of the bar’s beginnings. “Dad and I did this for four months.
Norman characterized his father as a super athlete. “For three years we talked about opening a sports bar. Myself, I wanted a bike bar, a place I could go and feel comfortable,” he said. “So we did both. Is this a biker bar with a sports theme or a sports bar with a biker theme? It depends on whom you ask. Everyone makes up their own mind. We wanted to appeal to everybody.”
Norman said there are so many businesses that are not biker friendly. “All my biker friends are really good people, but the public needs to know that we might look different. We’ve got wives, husbands, children, aunts, uncles and people that love us,” he said. “We just have a bike and a brotherhood and fellowship you might not notice. Their perception of bikers is what they see on TV and that’s not accurate.”
Norman estimated that about 10 percent of their business will be bikers and motorcyclists from all over the country. “We’re right on U.S. 411. The Dragon is a Top Ten destination in the country, and people come from all over the world to ride it. We’re right in the heart of it. Obviously we want to cater to that. A lot of business comes to Maryville because of that,” he said.
Mark Norman said the food at Big Daddy’s is delicious. “We started out as a bar, but it turns out we’re becoming more known for our food. We have a really short menu. In doing a short menu, you have to have superior food. Everything we do is the best,” he said.
Norman said he and his dad will only serve “top end” burgers, wings, hotdogs and onion rings. “We’re getting a better lunch crowd everyday. We’ve got a Home Wrecker Hotdog. It’s an incredible, all-beef hotdog -- a one-pound hotdog with chili, cheese and slaw. When you eat it, you’re stuffed,” he said. Scotty Higgins, former owner of Smokin’ Joes Barbecue in Townsend, is the backhouse manager.
While Norman and his staff strive to provide the best food available, he said they’ll also serve up plenty of Southern Rock. “We tend to do more Southern Rock. Our crowds on any given night is average age 40 and up. It wasn’t by design. We lucked up and got this crowd,” he said.
Norman said he is doing the booking and where there is karaoke on Wednesday and Saturday, it turns out to be a good draw. “It’s getting bigger and bigger weekly. It’s a bigger draw than live music. We have live music on Thursday and Friday. Bike Night is Thursday and will feature Rick Sharpe. On Friday night for the next few months we’ve got Smoke and Mirrors playing,” he said.
The bar and restaurant has a large outdoor patio and there is seating for 116 inside and 24 on the porch. Norman said the building itself has 5,000 square feet of space with 2,000 square feet for the kitchen and the remaining 3,000 square feet for dining.
The Normans built their bar and restaurant with own hands. “We built every stick of wood in here. Dad and I had never built anything but we built every wall, we built the bar and back bar,” he said.
A feature Norman is extremely proud of is the pipes he has on the bar that can billow smoke. It is from a set of pipes he removed from a Harley-Davidson Road King.
“The goal all along was to create a bar where anyone felt comfortable. We wanted it extremely biker-friendly and extremely neighborhood friendly. We’ve got a great neighborhood bar,” he said. “It’s been a good thing. We’ve had a great amount of positive feedback from the community.”
The bar is named after Royce, picking up on “Big Daddy,” which is what Mark’s oldest daughter started calling her grandfather.
Ironically, Mark Norman’s nickname came after he shed weight following gastric bypass surgery. “I used to weigh 500 pounds. I lost the weight and then became Big Norm,” he said with a laugh.
Sun Up goes to sundown with new menu for dinner
Over at Sun Up Cafe, business at the eatery is moving into the twilight hours as managers chose to alter their hours and offer a different menu after 4 p.m.
Owner Michelle Haynes said they’ve added menu items like pastas and baked fish and barbecue. The restaurant will have their regular lunch items as well as the newly added dishes.
“They can still get Eggs Benedict until we close at 8 p.m.” said Haynes. “That’s the breakfast item we’ve carried throughout the day. They can get the full breakfast menu until 4 when we switch over to the dinner menu,” she said.
The restaurant is closed on Mondays, but open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. The restaurant opened last July. “We’ve had a really good response. People like to have breakfast all day and that’s really what we specialize in. Now they are real excited about dinner,” she said.
Haynes said Sun Up has a big list of appetizers, including the spinach con queso and chips, traditional or Mexican potato skins, breaded mushrooms, Sun Up Nachos and a sampler platter, fried green tomatoes with cheese grits.
Food is as ‘hot’ as jazz at Swanks at 100 Court
In downtown Maryville, Swanks at 100 Court is enjoying a good opening month as guests come to enjoy, among other things, their calamari, braised short ribs and deep-fried bow tie pasta.
Co-owner Alan Swank said he and the staff and co-owners want their restaurant to be an asset to Maryville. “What I want people to know about what we’re doing is that we want to bring a larger city opportunity to Maryville and help promote the downtown,” he said.
Swank said they’ve experienced a lot of interest from customers, yet there’s a lot of confusion about people thinking Swanks is just a bar. “Our main focus is dinner and music. We’ll still have a happy hour. We open at 4:30 p.m. for drinks. We start dinner at 5,” he said.
Executive Chef Chris Hinderlight studied both French and Italian cuisine. “He brings to the table a lot of stuff you’re not going to find in Maryville. He’s nothing short of phenomenal as far as chefs go,” Swank said.
Swank said the restaurant has a tapas menu in addition to their entrée items. “For those not familiar, a tapas menu is an appetizer menu. We have muscles, salmon, carpaccio of beef, crab cakes, warm brie, calamari plus a classic shrimp cocktail with large beautiful shrimp. These are menu items you won’t see a lot of in Maryville,” he said.
Swank said the dinner menu offers braised short ribs, a garlic roast chicken, a filet of beef, a rainbow trout, shrimp pesto linguini and soups and salads.
“While you eat this, you get to experience jazz softly playing in the background,” said Swank. “Every night we have live jazz starting at 7 p.m. Of course we have a martini and wine list.”
Brackins’ selling out their ‘Dinner and a Show’
At Brackins’ Blues Club, co-owner Mark Brackins has a new promotion called Dinner and a Show. The one-price evening features a music show and a specialty menu.
“It is always a different menu,” said Brackins. “The first time, we had Cornish game hens. The second time, a salmon dish and most recently the guests dined on center-cut filet before watching the show.
“We’ve done it three times and sold out. We put tablecloths on with candlelight. You get your own table. You sit back and relax, eat and see a good show,” Brackins said.
Mike Adams has taken over the Brackins kitchen. “He was with Sullivan’s for five years, started out at Big Ed’s Pizza in Oak Ridge and he worked at a seafood restaurant before going to Sullivan’s,” Brackins said.
The next Dinner and a Show is scheduled for Tuesday, June 24 with Ben Prestige playing. Price is $10 per person.
Brackins said guests are served at 6:30 p.m., and the show is at 8 p.m.
“The show is always a one-man nationally-known acoustic show, never a band. So it’s not so loud and rocking.”
O’Charley’s in Alcoa remodeling, helping schools
Locally owned restaurants and businesses aren’t the only businesses and restaurants taking time to renovate and make changes for the customers.
O’Charley’s Inc, announced recently that the restaurant at 364 Fountainview Circle was to be refurbished under the company’s Project RevO’lution rebranding program. The program is designed to upgrade O’Charley’s restaurants with both physical and operational enhancements designed to improve the guest experience. It is one of six Knoxville area O’Charley’s that will undergo Project RevO’lution.
On May 4, Project RevO’lution construction crews began working at night so as not to interrupt restaurant hours and guests’ dining experience. During the month-long RevO’lution rebranding, O’Charley’s will raise funds for the Alcoa City School District by collecting a percentage of all dessert sales during that time. The donation will be presented to the director of schools at the restaurant’s grand re-opening “ribbon-carving” ceremony, featuring an oversized, ceremonial steak knife, at 4:30 p.m. on June 4.
Project RevO’lution aims to update the interior and exterior design of the restaurant, new plateware and uniforms, and enhance service initiatives. The restaurant interior will feature new booths, new lighting and décor, improved design layout and a new color scheme. The exterior of the revitalized restaurant will feature new signage, lighting and updated awnings.
“Our Project RevO’lution program has been an unqualified success in markets that have completed their rebranding,” said Jeff Warne, O’Charley’s concept president. “The continued positive response of our guests and team members confirms that we ‘got it right.’ The program was two years in development, and we are quite proud of the final product and the improved results we are seeing in other markets and will soon see in Alcoa.”
O’Charley’s is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.