KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A Fountain City landmark is closing its doors this summer after 10 years.
At the intersection of Tazewell Pike and Jacksboro Pike, you'll find the Fountain City Diner. Now, a sign sits on the roof stating "Building For Lease" and that it's available on Sept. 1.
Penny Wagner, who owns the restaurant along with her husband Dennis, said they're going to be closing next month but they're not sure which date yet.
Wager said they weren't ready to close, but a 56% increase on their rent is more than they can handle.
"We are a mom and pop and we're not making a fortune here, and a close to 60 to 70% increase is pretty much a recipe for disaster financially," said Dennis Wagner.
Fountain City Diner is right off Broadway, an area of town where commercial rent is going up fast.
It's had around an 18% increase in the last five years.
"The economy's exploding. Landlords are taking advantage of the situation of growth in both the retail market and the value of land and buildings," said Justin Cazana with Avison Young Commercial Real Estate.
Cazana said that can make or break mom and pop shops like Fountain City Diner.
"A lot of businesses run on extremely small margins, so a significant rent increase can put them into the red," said Cazana.
This problem isn't specific to Fountain City.
It's getting more expensive to open a business across Knoxville and state.
"We're seeing values go up 20 and 30% over just three or four years ago," said Cazana.
He suggests small businesses find their niche in less crowded areas to really thrive as the city grows.
Fountain City Diner opened on Sept. 1, 2009. They're known to many as "your neighborhood diner". They serve breakfast all day and have daily specials like roast pork and fried catfish over cheese grits.
Locals will tell you their onion rings and pies are the best in the city.
It's open Monday through Saturday until 9 p.m. at least through mid August.
10News reached out to the diner's landlord but have not heard back.
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