Breaking News
More (0) »

Knoxville Breaking News, Weather, Traffic, Sports | WBIR.com

New projects bring an Old City Renaissance

Knoxville's Old City continues to define itself as a unique hub of food and entertainment

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A visit to Knoxville's Old City can make you feel like you've taken a trip around the world, without even leaving town.

You'll hear sounds of Scottish live music from Boyd's Jig and Reel and catch the delicious smells of fresh pizza, Mediterranean food and authentic Japanese Cuisine.

"We call ourselves and independent alternative, a quirky vibe of unique artists," business owner Robin Easter said. "Creative people doing things that are authentic."

Through the last few years, it's become a melting pot of diverse, cultural eateries. Oh, and you can eat at the Melting Pot restaurant too.

The eclectic pocket in Knoxville isn't just centered on restaurants. Artists have found their niche for a creative outlet. Pretentious Glass offers free demonstrations of glass blowing with a beer in hand. Rala lets visitors shop for locally-crafted merchandise. 

Knoxville's Old City continues to define itself as a hub of food and entertainment.

Rewind the clock back 30 years, 20, even just a decade -- and it was a much different picture.

"About 35 years ago, it was pretty dead around here, a pretty scary place to come," Easter recalled.

The Old City Association President and owner of Robin Easter Designs, has housed her business in the Old City for 35 years, giving her a front row seat to the changes.

"I love the Old City, I've seen it through a Renaissance, a slower time, and a new Renaissance, to me it's very exciting to see any time of day and night," Easter said.

In the last year, Mediterranean restaurant Kefi opened their doors, followed by Bluhen, a hemp wellness shop.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee - Hemp is now calling the Old City home. "Hemp-infused cocktails, hemp-infused beer, hemp-infused avocado toast. If you name it and we serve it, we'll put hemp in it," said Cody Seals with Blühen Botanicals. Blühen Botanicals is a Knoxville based hemp processing company now open for business in its more than 4,000 square foot retail space in the Old City.

In October, Japanese Ale House Fin Two kicked off their soft opening.

But it's not just food that draws people, many want to call it home.

"Crozier has recently been finished, a beautiful condominium development," Easter said. "Right behind that is large apartment complex called Stockyard Lofts they will be breaking ground soon."

And on Central, fresh paint and signs of construction give people passing by a preview of whats to come. 

"A butcher shop, HenHoc, a bread company called Kneaded, and a whole cluster of things that will be great!" Easter said.

RELATED: Hen Hoc Butcher makes plans to set up in Old City

RELATED: OliBea announces move to a larger space

The old Bowery and NV nightclub buildings will soon undergo renovations as well. A restaurant and office space is planned. 

RELATED: 'This area's about to take off': New restaurants planned in Old City

The recent changes is part of a momentum that business owners are confident will continue.

"The Old City originally was the melting pot 100 years ago. It's neat how it's come around and the same kind of business coming back down in here," Easter said.

The area is so popular currently, that there are no commercial real estate properties for sale. Some spaces are available for lease or rent.

If you're interested in learning more about the Old City, historian Jack Neely recently published a book digging into the past.