Scruffy City Hall Set to Open This Month

Preservation Pub proprietors Scott and Bernadette West are on the verge of unveiling their new venue at 32 Market Square, adjacent to the Pub, a spacious brewpub/concert hall dubbed Scruffy City Hall. Scruffy City was originally set to open on New Year's Eve with headliners the Black Cadillacs, but Scott West admits now that timeline was a little too ambitious.

Look for the hall to open now on Jan. 17, with a birthday celebration for Knoxville singer/songwriter/bandleader Wil Wright, including performances by his band Senryu and the popular wizard-rap outfit LiL iFFy. West says an official grand-opening show with the Black Cadillacs is still in the works.

The Wests purchased the building about two years ago with the intention of building a new night spot. Scott West says the concept for Scruffy City Hall was twofold. First, the couple wanted to create a cigarette-free venue for patrons who have often complained about the smokiness of the Pub's first-floor, known as the Smokeasy. (The Pub has a non-smoking second floor, but headlining shows take place downstairs.)

The couple also wanted a showcase hall for larger performances. West anticipates that the hall's total capacity will be 300-plus. "We wanted to scale up bands who have done really well for us, and also bring in larger bands," Scott West says. "There was a niche for a venue that could host shows not quite Bijou-sized, but bigger than the next-largest club."

Like the Pub, Scruffy City Hall should keep a seven-night schedule. Unlike its sister venue, it will only feature live music a few evenings per week, mostly on weekends. Scruffy City Brewery is under construction in the basement—hopefully to be open for toasting come April, with local brewmeister Logan Wentworth in charge. Wentworth has won brewing awards in a number of regional competitions.

The Hall's beer plan calls for 40 taps, 10 or so of which will eventually be given over to Wentworth's brews. The other taps will be devoted to various regional and national craft beers on a rotating basis.

But beyond the shows, the brews, and the smoke-free atmosphere, the Wests hope for Scruffy City Hall to win over new patrons with its unusual layout and décor. Plans call for a variety of Old World flourishes and adornments—Gothic arches, creative ironworks, drawbridge tables—as well as three separate balconies, the most impressive of which is an interior recessed balcony, or loggia, overlooking Market Square.

There are two other such balconies already on the Square, but neither of them is accessible to the public. West takes pride in the fact that theirs will enable Scruffy City Hall patrons to enjoy the Square from the lofty second-floor vantage of the Hall's open, arched windows.

The club's other two interior balconies overlook the Scruffy City stage. West says they've already installed top-dollar sound and projection systems, making Scruffy City suitable for local movie showings and cinema festivals, too.

"We want to create an ambience so cool and unique that people want to come be there in that room," West says.