Two Maryville restaurants closed this week, and an Alcoa pizza eatery is set to open its doors soon. Uno Chicago Grill on Watkins Road closed Sunday night. Sister Cats restaurant moved out of The Market at Washington and High on Sunday. Snappy Tomato Pizza is set to open in Crabtree Commons near Honey Baked Ham soon.
Work continues on Cheddars and Olive Garden in Alcoa, which are both scheduled to open this spring.
Uno Chicago Grill: Company restructuring
Rick Hendrie, senior vice president of marketing for Uno Chicago Grill, said the location on Watkins Road in Maryville closed Sunday night as part of a “larger restructuring the company has been in the midst of,” said Hendrie.
Hendrie said that as part of that process there were leases the company was renegotiating, and they could not reach a successful agreement for the Maryville store.
There was only one Uno Chicago Grill in the Knoxville market, and it was the Maryville store. “With a single restaurant, it is tough to be in a market the size of Knoxville and have one restaurant,” he said.
Hendrie said the employees at the Maryville were told about the decision the day of the closing. “They were notified on Sunday, which is a common strategy primarily because of our commitment to ensuring that the guest experience is the best it can be,” he said. “We’ve learned over time that the knowledge of closing, without exception, affects the employees’ ability to serve guests at higher level.”
Hendrie said the company’s first commitment is to a great guest experience. “Our commitment to employees is sincere and strong though,” he said. “We have tried to find them work and offered them counseling in looking for a job, unemployment and a variety of other things we can do to make the transition as smooth and pain-free as possible. No one likes to lose their job.”
Hendrie said between 40 and 50 employees were let go and two or three managers also lost their jobs.
Sister Cats Café closes at The Market at Washington
Sister Cats, a Townsend restaurant known for homemade fare, opened in June in The Market at Washington and High, and closed after business Friday, Feb. 26.
Sister Cats Café owners Cynthia and Terry Barker could not be reached for comment at the Townsend location, and the couple had already moved out of The Market.
Dan Mizell co-owner of The Market along with Butch Clark, said the owners of Sister Cats Café at The Market decided to take a different avenue.
“The Market is expanding into the front with a larger fish market and meat market. We’re going to expand the dry goods section and carry more grocery items,” he said.
Mizell said there will be prepared food out of the meat and fish market. “There will be food people can purchase for lunch, and food they can take home for dinner prepared out of the butcher shop and out of the fish market,” he said.
Snappy Tomato will open in Crabtree Commons
Snappy Tomato Pizza is hoping to open in April in Crabtree Commons on Marilyn Lane beside Honey Baked Ham, building owner Rod Crabtree said Tuesday.
“Snappy Tomato Pizza is going in, and I’m very excited to have them coming to the center,” Crabtree said.
Cheri and Justin Cowan of West Knoxville are opening the business. “It’s a franchise out of Kentucky. They have about 150 locations, so they’re expanding quickly,” Crabtree said.
Cheri Cowan said she and her husband enjoy the restaurant. “We’re actually big fans, and we live near one of the stores in the Knoxville area and became customers,” she said. “We were looking for an opportunity to get into business for ourselves, and we knew they were looking to expand in this area.”
Cheri Cowan said they picked Crabtree Commons in Alcoa because of its location. “We think there is a lot of potential there, and we’re interested in bringing a really great product to that area,” she said. “It will be carry-out/delivery restaurant, and we were looking for a place to reach a lot of customers in a good radius.”
Workers are currently remodeling the storefront that formerly housed Foothills Coffee Company and the Cowans hope to open soon.
Cheri Cowan talked about some of the qualities that drew her to Snappy Tomato Pizza. “We make our own dough everyday in the store, use fresh cheese and a special homemade pizza sauce that is unique. We use fresh vegetables and high quality meat,” she said. “We’re trying to really put a high quality product out there.”
Cheri Cowan said they plan on hiring a general manager but they will be closely involved in the store’s operations. They plan to hire about 10 employees for the restaurant.
Crabtree said he was very familiar with the company. “They have three locations in Knoxville that recently opened in the last year. One is at Northshore Road and Pellissippi, and I was actually a big fan of their pizza,” he said. “It’s a good product, and they were looking to expand into Blount County. We are very excited to have them.”
Crabtree said the food is high quality, and the prices are phenomenal.
The restaurant will have 1,600 square feet of space. “There isn’t going to be a sit down area,” he said. “It’s going to be carry-out and delivery so the majority of it is kitchen with a waiting area.”