ear (2007-10)

Designated Drivers Drink Free!

Surrealism at 1:00

Three to Get Ready...

We'll Be Right Back

Jumpstart for Shoppers

Bug in Our Ear

Designated Drivers Drink Free!

Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning and a couple of his Colt teammates were visible to a national ESPN audience at the UT Vols-Florida game at Thompson-Boling Arena. Manning gave the team a pep talk before the game, talking about the importance of teamwork and trusting your teammates. The Vols proceeded to lay down some whoop-ass on the Gators. After the game, Manning and his friends got a ride with new Knox County Sheriff Jimmy "J.J." Jones . Jones drove the group to the Old College Inn on Cumberland, a favorite UT hangout.

Manning and his entourage visited with Dane Bradshaw , the Vol senior honored at the game for his last home appearance. Jones, as a good designated driver should do, drank ice water.

Vol Coach Bruce Pearl and his wife arrived at the O.C. I. just in time to buy a round for the house and to prepare for Sports Center on ESPN at 1 a.m. The first 15 minutes of the show was devoted to Vol highlights, with Pearl giving a running commentary on the action.

Pearl recently donated $100,000 to the UT scholarship fund in the name of Bradshaw, to recognize his contributions to the team.

Surrealism at 1:00

The problem was an emergency sprinkler system. A self-destructive microwave in an upstairs apartment had set it off.

For Bernadette West , former proprietor of the nearby Preservation Pub, and who once had an interest in the Grotto, the scene was especially surreal. It was her last full day of freedom, before reporting to Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia (of Martha Stewart fame) for a mandatory sentence of close to two years for money laundering in the West marijuana trafficking case. (Her husband, Scott West , once ubiquitous on the square, is already serving time in a federal prison camp in Alabama; though delayed by legal challenges, the buildings they once owned are expected to be auctioned off, on behalf of the federal government, later in the spring.)

The Wests' friends toasted Bernadette's swift return, which may come as soon as late 2008.

Remarkably, proprietor Susie Dew had the front part of the Grotto up and running, with art in place and a cash bar, in time for First Friday. Though parts of the nightclub's distinctive bamboo floor will have to be replaced, Dew says the business is insured, and she expects a full recovery.

Three to Get Ready...

Knight, a Chicago native, came here after her parents moved to Tellico Village. A downtown resident, she was formerly director of restaurants at the Ritz Carlton Maui (Yowwy), and she says she loves Knoxville.

Trio will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 9 to 9 on weekends, with daily breakfasts until 11 a.m., and weekend breakfasts until the warily civilized downtowner arising and shining time of 3 p.m. Beer, wines and liquor are available.

Koi, a separately owned and operated pan-Asian restaurant long in the planning stages down the square, is shooting for an opening before the first of April.

We'll Be Right Back

The group's plans to buy the station were thwarted, however, when another bidder came along who has converted the station to an all-sports format.

The Southern Roots gang is negotiating to come back on another station and the website (SouthernRootsRadio.com) advises viewers to keep checking back for more information.

Jumpstart for Shoppers

You can get information about a retailer's guide, fact sheets on clothing, computers and school supplies and frequently asked questions at tntaxholiday.com.