I don’t want to jinx anything, but it’s looking like our lease is coming together in Knoxville, TN. We have been having some difficulties finding the perfect space, but things are starting to get finalized.
I’ve had some snags along the way and have really gotten a rude awakening at just how tough it can be to navigate opening your own business. In the span of just a few months, I’ve driven several thousand miles to look at locations that eventually fell through and been caught in the middle of an emerging ‘better burger’ war with an ex-NFL athlete.
I don’t know about you, but I have to think those commercial real estate guys have to have been feeling rather uncomfortable with a Marine on one side and an All-Pro Defensive Tackle on the other competing for coveted space on Cumberland Avenue…
I’ve also experienced some of the necessary, yet sometimes unpleasant bureauracies that are involved with opening a restaurant.
We’ve come across great locations with bad parking, and bad locations with great parking … I’ve spent time on the phone with inspectors and codes people, and more. It’s been a really trying but eye-opening experience.
Some of my thoughts having come this far in site selection/preparation are:
1. The Knoxville economy is on the way up in a big way. For this, I’m really excited. I think our gourmet hamburger delivery business is really going to hum and have tons of growth potential. It’s been extremely competitive to find suitable locations, and that’s a testiment to the emerging growth and interest in the Knoxville market.
2. There are some really helpful individuals out there who are willing to go the extra mile for you. It really makes me happy to see the caliber of some of the business owner and team members at many of the different companies and organizations that are going to be crucial for our success in getting open this summer. A few shout outs to these individuals are – Michael Moore, of Sperry Van Ness / R.M. Moore, LLC. Michael has been slugging it out in the trenches for me for months now and after the run we’ve had finding a place, he deserves a medal for sticking with us! Michael you’re the man, man.
Another awesome individual has been Doug Minter of the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce. Doug’s a Marine too, so he really has been awesome in providing recommendations and assistance. I’m really looking forward to getting involved with the Chamber and participating with them in the coming years. Doug has connected me with the Tennessee Veteran’s Business Association and I can’t wait to start learning from some of these great veteran business owners.
Another great guy has been Jeb Neal of Sysco Knoxville. Jeb has years and years of experience in the restaurant business and he has provided some great insight into the “pulse” of Knoxville and specifically the Cumberland Ave area. I can’t wait to get all our equipment installed, so Jeb and I can get the Sysco guys in and practice with their products.
Lastly, every great business has got to have a good bank – I’ve been spending lots of time with Civas Capital – part of Citizen’s Bank of East TN. They recently outgrew their office space and had to expand, and I can attest that it’s because they’re making smart-moves by investing in hard-working Tennesseans and small-businesses like our Gyrene Burger franchise. Alan Hice and Jeff Hooten really go the extra-mile and we’re looking forward to a great future with these guys behind us.
Overall, my excitement level is about an 11 on a 10 scale because I know that we’re about to launch a brand that is going to generate a lot of buzz on campus and downtown. As I transition from the Marine Corps and get closer to flipping on the “open” sign at the Knoxville Gyrene Burger, I’m going to attempt to keep updating this blog and keep everyone in the loop on our emerging hamburger delivery company.