Wednesday, February 16, 2011

When We Get Behind Closed Doors

I doubt this is what Charlie Rich had in mind when he penned that song, but I've noticed what seems to be a shift in standard operating procedure for businesses completing renovations or moving into new downtown location: privacy barriers. Not all of them are following suit, but I wonder if it is a good idea. Are they worried that a blogger might snap a picture or two?

Fort Hotel St. Oliver obstructing the sidewalk, Union Avenue, Knoxville, February 2011
The first place I noticed this was with the Hotel St. Oliver renovation. It's impossible to miss: they've built a fortress across the sidewalk and out into the street preventing any possible glimpse of what they are up to and obstructing foot traffic in the mean time. The work on the Daylight building kept that stretch of Union from being navigable on the sidewalks for a long time, now we have The Fortress and the construction on the sidewalks a block away.

Union Avenue Books: Simple, yet elegant brown paper wall, Knoxville, February 2011
The other business clearly following this practice is the new Union Avenue Books. At least they aren't obstructing the sidewalk. They simply covered their windows with brown paper. I'm thinking a good step ladder would get me into viewing range, so if you see a guy walking down the sidewalk with a ladder, that's probably me.

Union Avenue Books: circa one week Pre-Brown Paper Era, Knoxville, February 2010

Union Avenue Books, check out desk looks suspiciously like Carpe Librum
Taking the opposite tact is the new Blue Coast Burrito, as well as the new Nama location. Each of them are on display as their stores take shape. Thanks to their approach I can report that Nama is looking almost ready to open and a sign on the door says they are hiring experienced sushi chefs. Blue Coast Burrito is also suddenly moving along on their interior work, though they clearly aren't close to opening.

Presumed location of the Lunchbox, Market Street, Knoxville, February 2011
Rounding out the secrecy discussion is possibly the most secret of all: the Lunchbox. It's so secret I can't find it. It's in the Bank East building on the 600 block of Market Street, facing Krutch Park according to the article in the News Sentinel. That's pretty specific. I actually think I've seen it, but I"m not sure. The stealth weapon in this case? Simple blinds. They're closed. The description that says the new store "faces Krutch Park" is also a little off the mark, if I've got the right location. The view of Krutch park is a block away and it is the corner of the park.

The new Lunchbox as seen from Krutch Park (other side of the parked car)

Krutch Park viewed from the new Lunchbox location
I believe it creates excitement among downtown visitors, but particularly residents, as we see the new businesses take shape. Even though it might be a slight bother, the opportunity to wave to the new owners or stop in and introduce ourselves begins to build the bonds that will be necessary if the business is to succeed. It's never too early to start.

In the meantime, if I see any pesky blogger running around with a camera, I'll be sure to let you know.

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