Locating Barley’s in Maryville easy choice for owner
By Steve Wildsmith | (email@example.com)
Finding an exact location for a new Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria has been four years in the making, but deciding on which community would be home for it was an easy one.
“Maryville, Maryville, Maryville,” Randy Burleson told The Daily Times on Saturday. “Or I should say, Blount County, Blount County, Blount County. All of Blount County has been so good to us over the years.”
Burleson, the founder of Aubrey’s Restaurant Group, which includes Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria in Knoxville’s Old City, as well as six Aubrey’s locations (with a new one slated to open soon in Oak Ridge), Sunspot, Bistro by the Tracks, and Stefano’s Pizza, said company officials hope to open the new Barley’s in downtown Maryville, slated to go into the former building that once housed fabled music store Roy’s Record Shop, in March 2013.
Burleson first started looking at buying the building, located at 128 W. Broadway Ave., four years ago after owner Roy Garrett closed his store in 2007 after more than 40 years as a business in downtown Maryville.
“It just wasn’t the right time; the building had some damage to it,” Burleson said. “When we came back to look at it, the insurance company had repaired the building to better-than-expected shape. All the engineers came back and said it would support what we wanted to do. It’s a beautiful building, and it matches up really well with what we have in Knoxville.”
Barley’s Taproom in Knoxville’s Old City first opened in 1998 as part of a franchise that began in Asheville, N.C. In 2002 Burleson purchased the establishment, and during the past decade it’s become a go-to spot for diners and fans of live music alike.
Similar to Old City location
The Maryville location will feature enough similarities to place it under the same umbrella as the Knoxville Barley’s, but Burleson is planning some changes that will establish it as a restaurant and nightspot with its own identity. He hopes the business will add to the vibrancy of downtown Maryville.
“When we bought the Old City location, we moved the shows and the entertainment back to the 10 p.m. hour, because it was a family restaurant and pizzeria, and people were not able to enjoy a nice family dinner because the music was getting loud,” Burleson said. “Maryville already has a nice entertainment scene with The Palace Theater, The Capitol Theatre, Two Doors (Down) and Brackins (Blues Club), and we’re excited to be a part of that. We’re excited that we can be just as much of a music venue as the Old City location, and be more accommodating to all age groups other than just the UT students who want to stay up until 2 in the morning.”
With three floors of 5,000 square feet apiece, the Roy’s building will need some renovation to accommodate Burleson’s operation. The basement will house storage and coolers; the downstairs will feature the restaurant area serving food Burleson describes as “Barley’s with a Sunspot menu;” and the upstairs will be home to a listening room/concert area where music will begin earlier than in Knoxville, since it won’t affect diners one floor below.
Throughout the years, Barley’s in the Old City has hosted a variety of local, regional and national acts, up to and including Memphis garage-soul rockers Lucero and cow-punk pioneers the Meat Puppets. It’s also been a good spot for musicians with Blount County ties: songbird Robinella played a regular Sunday night gig there for years, and Walland singing, songwriting couple Jeff Barbra and Sarah Pirkle once hosted WDVX-FM’s “Behind the Barn” radio/performance show from there.
“I think the Old City location will be a little bit louder because the music starts so late at night,” Burleson said. “In Maryville, we’re looking forward to offering some more critically acclaimed and more regional artists. We want to be a compliment to places like Brackins and Two Doors. We could see Robinella playing there every Sunday night again.”
Perhaps more importantly: Burleson estimates a Maryville Barley’s will hire between 60 and 70 people. Current employees will take some of those jobs, he said, but he added, “We look forward to hiring more of our Maryville neighbors.”
Officials praise news
While the ink has yet to dry on the deal and Burleson doesn’t yet have the key to the building in hand, Maryville officials are already praising the news. City Manager Greg McClain waxed enthusiastic about the growth of downtown Maryville on Friday, and Bob Hirche, president of the Downtown Maryville Association, hailed the news on Saturday.
“We couldn’t be more excited, just absolutely delighted,” Hirche said. “We hate to see Tomato Head go (owners of the restaurant at 211 W. Broadway in downtown Maryville announced in May plans to move to West Knoxville), but we’re excited about these new ventures. Barley’s will be a tremendous asset to the community.”
Coming on the heels of the Maryville City Council’s decision to next month consider first reading of an ordinance to allow permits for the manufacture of beer and for the retail sales of beer by manufacturers for on-premise and off-premise consumption, and intention of Blue Tick Brewery owner Christopher Snyder to open a microbrewery in Maryville’s Five Points, the options of diners and nightlife enthusiasts couldn’t look more rosy, Hirche said.
“I look at it this way. The community reached out years back when Ruby T’s was there, and they also reached out when Swank’s was there,” he said. “There’s an absolute demographic that’s unserviced: people who want a non-smoking environment with food and music. They’re absolutely clamoring for it.”
That’s a clamor Burleson hopes to help meet, he said, and he’s confident he’ll soon close the deal on owning the “best-looking building in downtown Maryville” in which to do so.
“That building strikes me the minute you see it,” Burleson said. “At one time, we wanted to open a barbecue restaurant and smoke house there and call it ‘Roy’s Real Barbecue,’ because that man and that building had such a presence in Maryville. We’re proud to be able to do something with it, and with everything else, I think downtown Maryville has the opportunity to be better than Market Square in Knoxville.”