Better Late Than Never

Well, lookie here. Scarlett O’Harlot is finally making her first appearance. Alert the media.

To all you assholes who doubted me (I mean, to all my dear friends), I apologize for taking so damn long to write. In my defense, I was on a Drinking Hiatus for a couple of months (read: rehab), and I really didn’t have much to contribute to the conversation. I’m here now, though (yay), and no, I wasn’t really in rehab (boo), just recovering from TMJ surgery. Which I don’t recommend.

And now for today’s topic: Drinking in Knoxville, “Short West.”

If you’re not familiar with the term “Short West,” it’s the name that the Knoxville Police Department uses to refer to the area of Knoxville between “Downtown” and (of course) “Long West.” I think it mainly encompasses Bearden, West Hills, and Cedar Bluff. I once did a police ride-along in the Short West “beat,” and that’s how I got all of this privileged information.

Here, I’m using it to refer to the area between Bearden, where I do the majority of my drinking (at the Back Door Tavern), and West Town Mall, where I do the majority of my shopping. (Not really. Actually, I do the majority of my shopping at Ashe’s Wine and Spirits.) For all intents and purposes, I'll use Northshore Drive and Morrell Road as the endpoints. There’s really no significance to me designating this portion of Kingston Pike as “Short West,” other than the point that I’m about to make, which is: Drinking in Knoxville, Short West seems to be at an all-time low.

Perhaps it’s a sign of The Recession (which may or may not be real, depending on whom you ask…kind of like global warming and Santa Claus), or maybe it’s just a sign of the boring-ness of the people in this area of town. Either way, the bars in Short West are having a hard time making it, and I, for one, am a little disappointed in the selection of drinking establishments that we’ve been left with.

First, there was the loss of The Spot. Sure it wasn’t the nicest place in town, but it had a decent patio and it wasn’t pretentious. At some point, I had heard rumors that the owners were going to open a second location and call it The Other Spot, but before that ever happened, they up and closed the original one. Which was unfortunate, really.

Next, there was the demise of Michael’s (due to some messy legal battles), followed by the rise of its alter-ego, The Palace, which also closed its doors recently. “Good food and fun since 1981” no more. A lot of people I know wouldn’t have set foot in this place for any amount of money, but I actually went there (more than) a few times, occasionally on Friday nights (when I wanted to dance) and more often on Wednesday nights (for poker). Say what you want about it, but I like a place that I can walk into and have a waitress greet me with, “Hey Scarlett, do you want your usual?” (Note: This probably happened only because I was one of the few customers who didn’t fall into the category of Dirty Old Men, and the waitresses were just happy to see me.) I recently read on the sign outside this place that The Palace will soon be replaced by something else, which had a funny name that I can’t remember right now. So, we’ll see how that goes.

And then, of course, there have been multiple closures at that place on Bearden Hill which, despite having a seemingly good location, can’t seem to make it as anything. I mean, there have been no less than, like, seventeen restaurants/bars in that building during the past few years (slight exaggeration), and I can’t remember a single one of them. (Okay, I can remember the Giant Panda, but I NEVER WENT THERE.) A few days ago I noticed that yet another bar will be opening up there soon, and I really couldn’t help but think, “What’s the fucking POINT?” I give it six months. No, three.

Which leaves us with Ray’s, formerly known as Kingston Alley. It’s certainly not the only bar in this neck of the woods (let’s not forget Little Ricky’s), but from what I’ve heard, it’s the only one anyone goes to. And by “anyone,” I mean the former Michael’s/Palace crowd. Which explains why, the other night, when some guy asked me if I’d been to “The Coke and Poke” lately, he was referring to Ray’s.

For the love of God, Short West. You mean to tell me that the only viable place to get drink around here is a place people refer to as The Coke and Poke? I’m gonna need you to do a little better than that.

Here’s hoping for a better economy.


  1. Well well well, Scarlett finally joins the party (toasts). Welcome aboard!

  2. I would go have surgery too, if I had to drink at most of those places even once.

  3. Little Ricky's is closed now and should be opening as a new bar soon.