First Watch acquires The Egg & I

The fast-growing breakfast/lunch segment has been ripe for consolidation and two of the largest restaurant operators did not disappoint.

First Watch Restaurants, headquartered in Florida, announced Wednesday it has acquired Colorado-based The Egg & I Restaurants.

The transactifirstwatchon positions First Watch as the nation’s largest and fastest-growing breakfast, brunch and lunch restaurant company with 267 restaurants in 26 states and a combined 18 under development in 2015.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

First Watch entered the Knoxville market in 2013 with a franchise location off Parkside Drive in Turkey Creek. The Egg & I followed in 2014, opening two restaurants in Bearden and off Lovell Road adjacent to Costco. Continue reading

Dead End BBQ, Sugarlands partner on sauce

Moonshine BBQ Sauce!?

Yep .. The folks at Dead End BBQ and Sugarlands Distilling Co. have teamed up to offer two moonshine flavored barbecue sauces just in time for the Memorial Day holiday.

Rye and peach moonshine BBQ sauces are now available for purchase at Dead End BBQ’s Knoxville and Maryville locations, as well as at Sugarlands distillery in Gatlinburg. It retails for $10.

Continue reading

Q&A with Tech2020 CEO Kevin Kragenbrink

Kevin Kragenbrink served as the interim head of Tech2020 for nearly six months until being named permanently to the position of CEO last month. I sat down with Kevin to talk about his vision, as well as the challenges and opportunities ahead for the organization, which marks its 20th anniversary this year.

Carly – When you were first named interim, it was really not considered a longer term commitment. What changed your mind?

Kevin – I got into the process sort of helping identify what the organization could and should be doing for the future and helping to sort of define that with the board. It just got e0515_kclo_carly_KevinKragenbrinkxciting for me to see the opportunities that Tech2020 has and the things it could accomplish, I think, as part of the region’s entrepreneurial support system. My passion has always been helping business owners succeed and getting their businesses to where they want them, just as Tech2020 is so well positioned to do that. As we got a little further along in the process, I just said this is a lot more exciting than I expected it to be and a lot more in line with my passion than I expected. Continue reading

Ruby Tuesday founder backs NY’s Mexicue

A New York restaurant concept that combines Mexican and barbecue foods has a found an investor in Sandy Beall.

Beall, who in 2012 stepped down as CEO  of Maryville-based Ruby Tuesday 40 years after he founded it, now owns 25 percent of Mexicue, a fast-growing restaurant concept that has three New York locations. It plans to open two new locations each year, according to a New York Times feature that was published today.

11128587_853459971370071_6083254315259203084_nBeall got involved when the restaurant owners approached investors hoping to raise about $500,000 for its second restaurant

“I’ve invested a lot in Mexicue because I believe in what we’re doing,” Beall told the New York Times.

The restaurant began in 2010 as a food truck selling on New York streets and opened its first brick-and-mortar store in 2011. It saw revenues top $6 million in 2014. Continue reading

CVS coming to former Bearden car wash

Been wondering what’s going on at the corner of Kingston Pike and Northshore Drive in Bearden?


Crews have been working the last couple of weeks to demolish the former Simoniz Car Wash, which has been out of commission since fall 2013.

It now appears the high-profile lot adjacent to Food City will now be home to a CVS Pharmacy. It is scheduled to open in November.

An existing CVS  is located just a half mile east of the new site.

CVS spokesman Mike DeAngelis said the nearby store will transfer operations,  and all employees will relocate to the new store.


Two Knoxville startups selected for 36|86

Two Knoxville startups – Bandposters and Survature – have been selected to be part of this year’s 36|86, a LaunchTN event in June that aims to celebrate entrepreneurship and culture.

The companies are among 36 from seven Southern states and the District of Columbia invited to participate in Village 36, where they will get to network with investors and other entrepreneurs.

They will also have the opportunity to pitch for a chance to win $36,000. Continue reading

Wilderness owners open Pa. resort

In case you find yourself in the northeastern part of the U.S., you might be interested to know that the owners of Wilderness at the Smokies – Stand Rock Hospitality – have opened a new $163 million indoor waterpark hotel in the Pocono Mountains, a tourism destination in northeast Pennsylvania.

Camelback Lodge RenderingThe Camelback Lodge & Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark is located at the base of the existing Camelback Resort ski and outdoor waterpark.

The 453-room, eight-story hotel includes several restaurants, adult and kids spas, an arcade and family entertainment center as well as the 125,000-square-foot indoor waterpark. Continue reading

UT ace pitcher son of Hooters CEO

So who knew University of Tennessee’s ace pitcher – Bret Marks – is the son of Hooters of America CEO Terry Marks?

I wTerry_Marksas unaware until I read this fun profile story of the pitcher by Dustin Dopirak in Friday’s News Sentinel.

Terry Marks – who pitched in the San Francisco Giants organization – is a former Coca-Cola Enterprises senior executive and former CEO of The Pantry convenience store chain before being recruited in October 2011 to Hooters to help fix the Atlanta-based chain.

His son – who “bought a pair with thick black frames so he could resemble Charlie Sheen’s Rick ‘Wild Thing’ Vaughn character from the 1989 baseball comedy movie ‘Major League'” – came to Knoxville in 2014.



Local entrepreneur gets “Shark” shout-out

A week before Shark Tank’s casting crews came to Knoxville, local entrepreneur Charles Brown, founder of No Quotes, got a Twitter shout-out from none other than Daymond John.

John, a fashion mogul who started the clothing and hip hop apparel company FUBU, is part of the Shark Tank cast and took time to meet one-on-one with Brown at a Game Changer meeting.

On April 20, John tweeted sporting a No Quotes hat.

Because he already had contact with a Shark, Brown was exempt from participating in Knoxville’s casting call on Thursday.

More on Brown and his efforts to come.

Shark Tank draws familiar Knoxville faces

The chance of landing a spot on ABC’s hit show Shark Tank is slim – 150 of 40,000 who applied last year got on the show – but that didn’t stop nearly 180 people from giving it a try.


There were many who drove hundreds of miles to Knoxville to make their one-minute pitch on Thursday to casting members, but amongst the crowd were some familiar faces.

Here are a few Knoxvillians I spotted:

Lisa Wiles of Fan-e Shaker – an adjustable pom-pom skirt designed to snap on pompoms that can be traded out for different colors to support fans’ favorite teams. I wrote about Lisa’s efforts back in 2014. She said she decided at the last minute to come make her pitch to the Sharks’ crew. Continue reading