Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Urban Bar and Corner Cafe: New Memories at a Old Favorite Spot

Urban Bar and Corner Cafe, Old City, Knoxville, March 2012

During my meanderings last Saturday night I had very little in the way of plans. I'd already eaten a wonderful cheese plate from Just Ripe before I left home, so I wasn't hungry. I really like Ian Thomas, so I knew I wanted to hear his set at the Market Square St. Patrick's Day celebration. I really had only one other item on my agenda and that was to walk to the Old City and to the Urban Bar and Corner Cafe to meet Ally the manager and frequent reader and commenter on Stuck Inside of Knoxville.

Ally and revelers at the Urban Bar and Corner Cafe, Old City, March 2012

While I've never entered the Urban Bar before this night, I have wonderful memories of the space. It's on the northwest corner of Central and Jackson in the Old City and it is a great location for watching the local personalities wandering down the street. It also used to be home to Ella Guru's, which was one of Ashley Capps' first entertainment ventures. It featured live music for a reasonable price and brought in national entertainers. Sometime back in the late 1980s to early 1990s I saw Odetta (Alex Haley was there that night), Roger McGuinn, Clarence Gatemouth Brown and John Lee Hooker among others. In every case, I got to talk with them after the show.

Urban Bar and Corner Cafe, Old City, March 2012

I've intended to revisit the space, but never have gotten around to it. When I realized one of my readers managed the place, that sealed the deal. As I said last week, it really is about the people. I enjoy having "friends" on Facebook and I appreciate readers and especially readers who comment on my blog, but I really enjoy meeting real people in a real place in real time which, as I've said before, is what the city is all about to me.

Seating at the Urban Bar and Corner Cafe

Urban Bar and Corner Cafe, Old City, Knoxville

I got to meet Ally and got a sweet hug and found her to be as nice as I had imagined. As a bonus I got to meet her partner, Mandy and a colorful couple agreed to pose with Ally and the doorman (whose name I failed to get), so it was a pretty clean sweep. The various rooms included a bar area, indoor seating and pool tables, which, I believe is different from any other bars downtown.

My favorite part of the place, as I would have guessed, was the patio. With the lights strung all about and the corner view so perfect, it feels like a movie set. The night was a perfect temperature, the crowds were happy and the people watching was excellent. But, as always, it was all about the people. Now I have new friends and I'll be happy to see them again. I'd encourage you to drop by and see them, as well.

Patio at the Urban Bar and Corner Cafe

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At March 21, 2012 at 9:45 AM , Blogger tthurman said...

Took me a while, but I finally figured out what building that is. The old Hewgley's Music and later BW3 (I believe). It's a great building, easily one of the nicer ones in the old city, with a great location. I took guitar lessons there for many years until Hewgley's closed up shop here in Knoxville, so it's good to see it being put to good use once again.

At March 21, 2012 at 10:41 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well what do you know... here I am, a long-time "anonymous" Urban Guy reader, just dropping in to see the latest post. And what do I find? You have a picture of my girlfriend here!

In the photo "Urban Bar and Corner Cafe, Old City, March 2012", she is the brunette in the foreground with her back to the camera.

That's my beer sitting on the table to her right. You must have waited until I stepped into the restroom to take that photo. I don't blame you!

I, too, saw a lot of great shows downstairs during the Ella Guru days, and I also used to perform there with another musician, when it was BW-3.

At March 21, 2012 at 11:37 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Couple of things: Ella Guru was actually downstairs in what is now The Melting Pot. Second, the upstairs bar at the Downtown Grill & Brewery also offers pool tables.

At March 21, 2012 at 1:36 PM , Blogger tthurman said...

Yep, there are pool tables upstairs at Barley's as well.

At March 21, 2012 at 2:58 PM , Blogger Andrea said...

I recently met the owner of Urban Bar (and the owner of Melting Pot) at an Old City Association meeting. It was fun to read your post on the bar so soon after my meeting with them. They were both such nice guys!

I really like Urban Bar. When my husband and I were moving into our loft, we did the majority of the work in the middle of the night to escape daytime traffic and 100 Block street construction. It was 2 am and we hadn't had any supper and Urban Bar was the only place open at that hour, serving food. We really enjoyed going there that night and their food was good too. Great memories!

At March 21, 2012 at 8:14 PM , Blogger Knoxville Urban Guy said...

Man, I waited and waited for you to step out of the picture I wanted to take and finally . . . just kidding. I wish we'd seen each other and met. If you ever see a camera-welding blogger, please introduce yourself.

At March 21, 2012 at 8:17 PM , Blogger Knoxville Urban Guy said...

Thanks guys. I showed my ignorance on the pool tables. How have I missed the pool tables at Barley's? I guess I was never looking for them. Thanks for that correction. Actually, I do know that Ella Guru's was downstairs, but it's the same building. I suppose Hewgley's was upstairs at the time. Still, you are correct. Thanks.

At March 21, 2012 at 8:18 PM , Blogger Knoxville Urban Guy said...

Hey Andrea,
It's good to know they serve food so late. That's a good memory.

At March 21, 2012 at 9:15 PM , Blogger tthurman said...

Perhaps you've just not ventured upstairs?

At March 21, 2012 at 9:53 PM , Blogger Knoxville Urban Guy said...

Well, I have tended to stand in front of the stage when I've been there. Maybe I should expand my horizons.

At March 22, 2012 at 8:15 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will do that. I wish I'd seen and recognized you; I've been a regular reader for a long time, and would have liked to introduce you to the young lady.

At March 22, 2012 at 10:31 AM , Blogger Ally Gregory-Moore said...

Your picture of the patio is amazing. That patio is the reason that I drink way more in the summer then the winter.

It was great meeting you, finally.


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