KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Babalu reopened on Gay Street Thursday for the first time since it was bought and renovated.

The Latin-inspired menu is new to the restaurant, with familiar staples from the version of Babalu that closed in 2020.

“A lot of hard work, grit, determination, a lot of patience,” said Crystal Hong, operations manager at Babalu.

Hong said the work started in June and the new design was meant to feel “like an experience” when guests come to dine.

“We’re ecstatic to re-launch Babalu in such an iconic space. We firmly believe that our vision
for the concept will advance and strengthen the already stellar reputation that Babalu shared
amongst so many Knoxvillians. As always, we are honored to be a part of the ever growing and
evolving downtown scene and look forward to serving it for many years to come.”

Statement from Managing Partner Ryan Sheley

Hong said the team at Maple Hall is largely comprised of the same group hired when the bowling alley opened nearly five years ago. She said that is a testament to management, keeping employees at work even during the pandemic.

In the Spring of 2020, the owners of Maple Hall acquired the Babalu location, it was previously owned by Spell Restaurant Group. The redesign was led by R2R Studio and Sheley Development.

Visit Knoxville is happy to see their neighbor Babalu reopen as part of the Maple Hall family. It’s wonderful to see restaurants and attractions offering great experiences to both locals and visitors.

Statement from Visit Knoxville