KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A rent increase has a local diner shuttering its business after a decade.
Opening at the height of the recession in 2009 on a Monday, Fountain City Diner will close their doors for good Aug. 19, also a Monday.
“Sometimes we get busy doing our job and doing the best job that we can and you don’t really realize it impacts somebody’s life,” said Fountain City Diner owner, Penny Wagner.
“That’s what we’ve been having happen – people coming in and telling us that and it’s just been very humbling and overwhelming and it’s very emotional, sometimes it’s hard to even handle what they’re saying you’re just like, wow! I thought we were just feeding you.”
Feeding stomachs and hearts for the past decade, the Fountain City Diner announced Wednesday they would close for good Aug. 19 as a result of a rent increase that became too much.
“When they renewed it – it was like a 56 percent increase with an additional 20 percent over the course of the lease so it was almost a 70 percent over the course of the lease, there was just no way no way we could absorb that,” said owner Dennis Wagner. “We are just a mom-and-pop organization, it really wasn’t going to work out for us financially to absorb that kind of increase so we decided to just move on.”
Taking a risk to open a business is one thing, but opening during the Recession a decade ago was a whole other thing – but it worked.
“We kind of came up with an idea of what the community needed and at the time the economy was really, really bad – I mean restaurants are closing all around us,” said Dennis.
Not only did the Wagners persevere through an economic low-point, but their Fountain City Diner had also become a staple in the North Knoxville community.
“The customers and the staff here are like family to us and we just want to say thank you to everybody who has supported us and has come out in the last week or two to visit us one last time, it’s been a lot,” Dennis said.
The diner’s hours on Aug. 19 will be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. as normal.