KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A downtown Knoxville business has closed its doors permanently. Blackhorse Pub and Brewery announced Sunday it was shutting down its Gay Street location for good.
Blackhorse Pub and Brewery Co-owner Jeff Robinson consider the pub a small family-owned operation.
“Ironically the past six months have been the best six months we’ve had there,” he said.
The Gay Street location has been open for the past five years. Back in 2020, like all businesses, Blackhorse struggled in the midst of the pandemic.
“It was pretty good for a while and then we went through COVID, and then we had the post-COVID hell of trying to restock and re-employ,” said Robinson.
Blackhorse survived those challenging times but now they have decided to close for a different reason.
“Our building got new ownership earlier or during the middle of last year. And there were some discussions about changing our concept or doing some things a little bit differently and we really didn’t want to change our concept. But the neighborhood is kind of changing and we had a limited time left on our lease. So basically we took that opportunity to sell the time, if you will, to somebody else, so we could take that money and apply that towards a severance and transition for our employees,” explained Robinson.
Downtown Knoxville Alliance Executive Director Michele Hummel said this closure is another part of the ever-changing development of downtown.
“You know, everyone’s got their favorite bartender, their favorite server, and you hate to see them leave but also I know that there’s going to be another concept going in there and it’s going to be a strong concept and unfortunately that’s just part of being a business,” said Hummel.
Robinson said the focus is now on their Clarksville and Alcoa locations along with their employees.
“We did the best we could with severance pay. It’s not an optimal situation so you just do the best you can and hope it works out.” Robinson adds, “we hope that people in the East Tennessee area will continue to come to see us in Alcoa.”
Robinson said Blackhorse offered some employees the chance to work at the Alcoa location. He adds they’re not looking at opening a new location in Knoxville at this time.