KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Two businesses in Market Square won’t reopen their doors after they were first closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In mid-March, Knoxville businesses were forced to close if they were non-essential.
Shortly before the closure orders went into effect, the Knoxville Chocolate Company and Myrtle’s Chicken and Beer both closed their doors due to safety in light of the pandemic.
Knoxville Chocolate posted a sign on its Market Square location door stating the store front would be closed starting March 16 for at least two weeks, while still offering chocolate goods online.
As of Monday, the sign was still posted, but a new sign showed up next to it. That sign read “For Lease.”
The chocolate shop had moved into Market Square back in 2017.
WATE 6 On Your Side reached out to the owners of Knoxville Chocolate Company, who also owns Bradley’s in West Knoxville, but hadn’t heard back.
Rick Emmett, the downtown coordinator for the city of Knoxville, said he wouldn’t be surprised if COVID-19 was one reason for either closure.
“All of the businesses on Market Square have been impacted by COVID. And so, with all the competition, it’s probably not surprising that we’ve lost a business or two. We love all of our businesses. We hate that dearly, but, you know, I think COVID probably had a lot to do with at least one of these businesses going out right now,” Emmett said.
He said rent was pricier in Market Square, but that wasn’t the main issue.
It’s hard to pay any rent when less people are visiting Market Square and downtown.
“You just don’t have the customers down here. A lot of it relies on walk-in traffic, and we don’t have the farmer’s market now and that was driving a lot of the business in here I think on Saturdays for sure,” Emmett said.
Myrtle’s Chicken and Beer posted on its Facebook page back in March that both locations in Market Square and West Knoxville would be closed until further notice, but hopefully reopening in the summer.
On Monday, a padlock was locked to Myrtle’s door in Market Square, and according to the city of Knoxville’s business license department, another group has already submitted a permit for the space.
Emmett said the city was trying to help downtown and Market Square businesses survive the pandemic.
The city blocked off space in Market Square so restaurants could expand their outdoor seating.
Emmett said the city also blocked off parking near restaurants to help with online orders and to-go pickup.
He said it was unfortunate that Market Square lost Knoxville Chocolate Company and Myrtle’s Chicken and Beer.
Emmett said it won’t be easy for new businesses to move in amid the on-going pandemic, but he believes the vacant spaces won’t be vacant for too long.
According to the city of Knoxville’s business license department, Don Taco LLC, which owns Not Watson’s next door to Myrtle’s Chicken, applied for a license for Myrtle’s location.
WATE 6 On Your Side reached out to the parent company of Myrtle’s Chicken and Beer and hasn’t heard back yet.
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