citybeat (2006-43)

For now, a prominent restaurant expert is ‘helping’ at NKBC

A roundup of Knoxville’s newest ‘open’ signs

Wednesday, Oct. 18

The New New Knoxville Brewery?

Rumors have been rife this fall about the fate of the New Knoxville Brewing Company, the Knoxville area’s only bottling brewery, located on East Depot Street. Most versions of the story hold that brewer Brett Redmayne, the California brewer who took over the long-closed brewery in 2004, was getting out of the business, and that restaurant consultant Don Anderson would assume control of the facility, perhaps curtailing the bottling part, to provide beer to restaurants with which he was associated. Anderson himself says some of those stories, at least, are distortions.

Reached at the brewery on Tuesday, Anderson insists that, for now, the brewery is actually growing its bottling business. “We’re in over 50 retail and hotel markets, growing a little all the time,” he says, adding that New Knoxville beer has recently become available in Cookeville. He says New Knoxville is still making India Pale Ale, Traditional Pale Ale, with an English Brown Ale soon to be reintroduced. “The Hefeweizen has been so popular it will be very soon a year-round beer,” he says of that summer specialty. Furthermore, he says Redmayne is currently at work on a “holiday recipe.”

Several other sources say, though, that Anderson is in the process of acquiring NKBC from Redmayne, who is expected to leave town around year’s end.

Anderson says he’s been involved with Redmayne at New Knoxville for about two months. Asked to characterize his role with the company, Anderson says he has been “helping, learning the business.”

Anderson apologizes, “I’m not trying to be ambiguous. It’s literally something I’ve always been interested in. I’m learning the brewing end—also taking up home brewing.”

Long associated with the Regas family, Anderson is a restaurant consultant who has been involved with Italian Market and Grill and several others. Through his Southern Hospitality Restaurant Group, Anderson is involved with several restaurants in the region from Middle Tennessee to North Carolina; he seems especially proud of a place known as the Bald-Headed Bistro in Cleveland, Tenn.

“I’m working on a significant project down the road,” he says. “I can’t really say now.” He expects to discuss it more fully soon. Some sources suggest it will be a major downtown project.

Anderson ascribes some of the rumors to the fact that a North Carolina brewery has applied for a license to open a warehousing and distribution center across the street from NKBC; he speculates that people who noticed the posting misconstrued its implications. But others have connected dots based on irregular hours at NKBC’s tasting room, a bar that was one of Redmayne’s innovations in the last couple of years—and that the brewery’s phone and computer connections were sometimes interrupted in recent months. Some also noted the Redmayne didn’t appear at the brewers’ party at the Knoxville Brewers’ Jam a couple of weeks ago, and that the NKBC booth at the festival closed much earlier than the others.

Though its draft ales have earned plaudits from connoisseurs, especially when consumed on draft, the quality of the bottling wing of the business has been uneven. Some customers have complained that some of the bottles bought in groceries are variably flat or explosively heady.

Al Krusen and Ed Vendely began New Knoxville in 1996, naming it for a large-scale Victorian-era brewery located on Second Creek. The reborn NKBC operated as a bottling brewer for about five years before a bank foreclosed on the business in April, 2001, amid reported misunderstandings among owners and investors. The brewery was closed for over three years. (Though the current NKBC uses much of the same labels and packaging as the original, with a comparable selection of strong ales, the original management has no connection to the current NKBC. Krusen is now brewmaster at the Downtown Grill and Brewery on Gay Street.)

The actual property and equipment is owned by Oak Ridge real-estate dealer Tony Cappiello, who acquired it via the Peoples Development Company several years ago after the demise of the original NKBC, and held it in hopes of restarting it as a brewery. His advertisement in a trade journal brought Redmayne to town in 2004.

He says Redmayne had a great resume as a master brewer, but adds, “I think he was undercapitalized, frankly,” says Cappiello. “And he didn’t make many friends when he got here. He had that attitude.” Several who have dealt with Redmayne say they’ve had difficulties dealing with the brewer’s mercurial personality. “He’s leaving here owing people a lot of money,” says Cappiello. “I’m not very happy with him at the moment.”

“Don is better-connected, and better-liked,” Cappiello says. “He’s a long-term restaurateur, with experience in alcohol and beverage sales. Don will do a good job employing his instincts.”

All up in Your Business

We know. It can be hard to keep track of what’s opening and what’s closing and what’s just switching places around town. That’s why we’ve compiled this handy synopsis of the latest in local business news.

Cloning Knoxville’s palate : Have Solar Flare, will travel? Cumberland Avenue’s Sunspot is opening a new location in Maryville, possibly on Broadway, says owner Randy Burleson. “I love Blount County,” he explains. “We have a good relationship with the community. We like downtown Maryville.” On other Sunspot fronts, the Farragut location of sister restaurant Aubrey’s will be closing sometime in the not-too-distant due to a lack of parking. Don’t fret, though—it’s just relocating to a new building on Middlebrook, at Cedar Bluff, and Aubrey’s other locations in Bearden, Powell, Maryville and Lenoir City should keep your cravings at bay during the move.

That Maryville draft must be contagious, because Market Square’s Tomato Head is for-sure opening a new location at 211 W. Broadway. Owner Mashasti Vafaie says downtown Maryville is an ideal locale for Tomato Head v.2.0. “We were looking for a second location, and some folks from here invited us to see Maryville, and we spent some time down there and loved it.” The city government’s support of downtown parking and community events also influenced their decision, she says. Expect to consume your first Maryvillian Kepner Melt in January.

Confirmation of Gay Street sushi bar Nama’s upcoming westerly location has been hanging in midair for weeks, seesawing between West Knoxville and Farragut locations. Business is booming downtown, but Nama manager Jacque Slayton says opening a new location out that-a-way would be a great opportunity to share the sushi love. Slayton says the Gregg White empire-in-the-making isn’t finished with downtown yet; they might, just maybe, have something else up their sleeve. “We want to add something a little more creative. We don’t feel that need is met,” she explains. Meanwhile, sister restaurant La Costa and its neighbor across the Square, Oodles, are now serving Sunday brunch and have jumped on the happy-hour half-off wine-bottles band-wagon, spawned by Sunspot’s smash-hit Wednesday Wine Nights.

Chocolate, Caffeine… Pick Your Addiction : The newly opened vegan shop Coffee’n’Chocolate, off Broadway at 3616 Walker Boulevard, next to Harby’s Pizza, is sweet-tooth heaven. The shop offers 28 different coffees and 26 chocolates from around the world. Owner Sharif Harb has owned the location for four years. “It was a perfect place to put a coffee shop. Coffee in the front and a chocolate shop in the back,” says Harb. To celebrate the opening, he’s offering special discounts on coffee-of-the-day and low prices on coffee bulks. Milk chocolate orange sticks? Sign us up.

Old City Java is soon to open another location at 16 Market Square, on the entrance level of World Grotto. It’s going to be called World City Java, and they say we’re all invited to a tasting teaser on Nov. 3, also known as First Friday. The menu includes, first things first, an ice-cream bar, smoothies, signature sandwiches named after famous Knoxvillians, and a roster of international coffee drinks to die for.

Get your hair did : Last week, Salon Visage sprouted another branch at 11 Market Square and is kicking things off by offering 50 percent off all its services thru Nov. 4. Owner Steven Metzdorf partnered up with his 10-year-friend Frank Gambuzza to extend services to Visage clients who live and work downtown. “Being in Market Square helps us out, and we help them out. It works both ways,” Metzdorf says.

Meanwhile, in the Old City, Lox Salon has taken over the space formerly inhabited by Barnes & Barnes Salon, which moved to Market Square. Lox targets a younger, slightly more rock’n’roll savvy crowd (including Broken Social Scene’s frontman, who announced at his show here last week that he’d gotten a cut at Lox earlier in the day). The salon told MP a few weeks ago that they do more “punk-rock style” haircuts: dreadlocks, extensions, Mohawks and such. And they have a cute selection of hand-altered sweaters.

Money in the Bank : Community South Bank moved into Suite 110 at 625 S. Gay Street, formerly occupied by Clancy’s Optical Co., which moved across the street into the ground floor of the Burwell. “We already had a large SBA (Small Business Administration) office in the building,” says CSB city president Virgil Avans. The main reason behind the move, he says, was to expand, and to expand quickly. Beth Wade, the assistant vice president bank manager, adds, “We’re excited to be downtown with all the growth going on down here. We’re a small community bank and want to help banks downtown into that community atmosphere, and that’s what we’re aiming to do.”


Wednesday, Oct. 18

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Tuesday, Oct. 24