Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Knoxville’s Downtown Grill and Brewery

When Laurie’s sister Bonnie and her husband Bill came to visit us, we went to the Knoxville Farmer’s Market in Market Square and explored the possibilities, made a couple of purchases and, after a while, we decided to grab a bite to eat in a local restaurant…

This is the Downtown Grill and Brewery.  It’s located in the old W.W. Woodruff Furniture Store, a building that dates back to 1905.  Captain W. W. Woodruff, (Union Army), established W.W. Woodruff and Company on Knoxville’s “Old Baseball Grounds” ca. 1865.  It was one of the Knoxville’s longest continuously operating businesses finally closing in 1992…

This brings me to “the Curse of the White Mule”.  This ‘curse’ was localized to the block in which the store was built and it goes back to the mid-nineteenth century.  A Gypsy Circus came to town.  The story is that the side-show’s prize display–a white mule–died unexpectedly while visiting Knoxville.  The gypsies blamed the local folk for the death of their valuable side-show freak, and in revenge, they cursed the area and departed town in a huff.

No big deal…right?  The problem is that when curses seem to come true, they become urban legends in their own right!  During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, this area of downtown Knoxville had a series of uncanny fires break out, with the one in 1897 consuming most of this block.  In 1904, a dynamite explosion ripped off much of the façade of the ‘new’ Woodruff Building, which was rebuilt again in 1905.  Dozens were injured in the blast!  Since then, other happenings have occurred which some say are also due to the Curse of the White Mule. 

You can actually purchase a poster depicting the Legend of the White Mule!  Go to:

Bonnie, Bill and Laurie posed for me at the Downtown Grill and Brewery.  Bill is about as well known for smiling in photos as I am!  The story about the White Mule goes that ‘libations will stave off the curse’.  The Woodruff Brewing Company…located in the restaurant…actually produces White Mule ale in honor of the legend…or is it just in case the curse is real?

Bill ordered a ‘flight’ of Woodruff Brewing Company beers…and he thought that they were quite good.  The selection included White Mule Ale, Woodruff IPA, New World Porter, Downtown Nut Brown Ale, State Street Stout, Downtown Blonde Ale and an Alt.  This was a bit too adventurous for me…as I usually stick to Miller Lite when I’m drinking beer…

Sorry for the glare in the photo…but I wanted to show a photo of the square bar in the middle of the restaurant’s 1st level...(or is that a spirit haunting this building?)

The restaurant has 2 levels for dining as well as a party and game area in the back of the 2nd level.  Diners can opt to be seated on the 2nd level looking down on the bar and the giant ‘brewhouse’ or vat where the Woodruff Brewing Company makes its product. 

Bill started out with a House Salad… ($2.99) He loves salad!  It looked pretty good but I ‘saved myself’ for more serious eating…

The ladies ordered the Homemade Guacamole Dip with onions, cheese, tomatoes and a large portion of hot tortilla chips. ($6.95) They both love guacamole and they were very content with this heap of goodness!

We also ordered Soft Pretzels. ($6.95) This consisted of 2 large soft pretzels sprinkled with salt.  It was served with a side of their signature pale beer cheese for dipping.  The pretzels were nice but I prefer a cheese dip with a bit more bite or a deeper cheese flavor.

Our final food adventure for this snack type lunch was this 12 inch Cheese Pizza with the addition of spinach, Italian sausage and pepperoni. ($9.95) It was a very good pizza indeed!

The Woodruff Building became a restaurant in the early 1990’s.  The Woodruff Brewing Company was established in 2006.  The brew master was actually checking out his latest batch of beer or ale while we were dining.  This gleaming 15-barrel Bohemian brewhouse is located in the restaurant’s 1st floor dining room.

Our waitress took this photo of our group after our late lunch.  (Starting at the left… Bonnie, Bill, me and Laurie). Following a bit of beer, some good food, a nice visit to Knoxville’s Farmer’s Market and a little touring around town, we were ready to head home.

Laurie and I will have to return to Downtown Grill and Brewery for dinner some night in the not too distant future…and provide a true review of this establishment’s other appetizers and a couple of dinner entrees.  

Downtown Grill and Brewery and the Woodruff Brewing Company are located near Market Square in downtown Knoxville at 424 Gay Street.  Phone: 865-633-8111.  They are open for business 7 days a week.  Website:

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 


  1. All of that food looks so good --but since getting healthy, I can't eat stuff like that anymore much... I could probably have a piece of pizza and maybe a salad --but not much else. As I've said (probably many times), I had a horrible weight problem all of my adult life... I finally got the weight off FOR GOOD ---but have to be SO careful each and every day... I LOVE to eat --and it really grieves me to think that I can't pig out anymore... Wish I could because I'd love all of that good stuff... Sigh!!!

  2. Loved the history of the mule and your meals look scrumptious. I'm with Betsy. I can't eat that much food anymore. But is sure looks good...

  3. Good beer and good pizza makes for a fine lunch.