Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hanging on through Winter

In a way, the city recedes just a bit in winter. It's cold out and fewer people walk the streets. Lazy strolls disappear in favor of rapid-fire paces with the destination more in focus than the trip. A cold wind howls through many city blocks like unnatural canyons, making the snow, ice and rain more bitter. We long for those days of grace when the weather offers a warmer, if momentary reprieve. Snow, when it falls is beautiful in the city. Ice on sidewalks is much less attractive.

So, we venture out less, but so much is happening just beneath the cold tundra that has been downtown Knoxville the last few weeks. Word came this week of a new, yet old, restaurant moving to the block just south of Market Square. The Lunchbox which had catered to a lunch crowd on Gay Street will make its new home just outside Krutch Park and hopes to cultivate a customer base into the evening hours. To see retail businesses and restaurants emerging off Market Square is an exciting development. Hopefully this will expand resident, and particularly vistors' conception of places to frequent in the city.

Perhaps related to that story is the remodeling of the Hotel Saint Oliver. I've wondered if they might shift the entrance of the hotel to face Market Square. What prompted that thought was a quote from one of the new owners that they wanted to become more of a presence on the square. I don't see how that is possible unless they connect to it directly. This would mean that one or both of the restaurants located on the first floor of the building would have to move. One of these happens to be the Market Square Kitchen which seems to be the most direct competition to the new Lunchbox which will be a block away. Do the Lunch Box owners know something? Am I thinking too much about this? Maybe so. We'll see.

Meanwhile, Nama is preparing to move and according to a reader in a comment several days ago, a new restaurant is preparing to open in its place. A new club is expected to open on Gay Street, soon. Blue Coast Burrito and Just Ripe are working toward their respective openings.

There is also plenty of music on the immediate horizon to keep us warm as we wait the spring thaw. I hope to catch several of these upcoming shows: R.B. Morris and Marshal Chapman play at the Laurel Theater. Fred Eaglesmith, songwriter extraordinaire, will be at the Blueplate Special Saturday at noon. The Black Lilies will host their CD release party Saturday night at the Bijou. I understand there are a very few tickets left to that. Waynestock, a three day musical event at Relix, featuring may top local musicians and bands will happen next week.

All that hot music might be enough to cause an early thaw. Maybe not. As I'm writing this it is snowing outside. Tomorrow promises to be another frigid day. Stay warm everybody. Just two months until spring.

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