Tin Roof, Rocky Hill
It was opening night of the Olympic Games. The air was thick with humidity and for that reason, most bars and nightclubs for the last few weeks had been sparsely attended. It was only my second time venturing to the Rocky Hill neighborhood for my nightlife column.
I was headed to The Tin Roof, a sports bar with two locations (this being the newest) in Knoxville. The other location is near the UT campus; the chain's original locations started in Atlanta in the mid-1990s. Tin Roof has expanded to eight locations throughout the eastern U.S., and has found a welcome home here in Knoxville.
I pulled into the parking lot and waited patiently for the cars in front of me to find parking. We circled the building and the whole procession, including myself, discovered there was not a single spot. I exited the parking lot and parked myself in the Rocky Hill Shopping Center across Northshore Drive from the bar. As I walked up, I could see a car being pulled up for its owners by a valet. I don't think I have ever seen valet parking at a sports bar in my life, but I am sure after people complained about the parking situation on a similarly busy night, they came up with the idea as a solution. Either way, it added a level of service to the place that is rare with sports bars.
When you first walk in, the establishment seems normal enough: booths and TVs and a small stage to the right with no lighting. Random sports-related paraphernalia on the walls and a ticket window peering into the kitchen. As I moved through the main eating area, I came to a huge open door that led to an enormous patio. I had a seat in a booth behind a group engaged in a loud game of cornhole, and started to take some notes. A server came up to me very quickly, even though they were quite busy, and took my drink order. On the TV was what seemed to me to be the never-ending opening ceremonies to the Summer Olympics. Only a handful of folks seemed to be paying it any mind. Most people were engaged in social hour with beers in hand and smiling chatter. The buzz of conversation filled even the open-air patio area as folks smoked, played cornhole and made conversation.
I was very impressed with the patio bar at the Tin Roof. It easily was the size of entire patio bars I had visited in beach towns such as Key West and Jacksonville Beach, Fla. Obviously, the main difference being a lack of grass skirt decorations and such. Although in Key West there are roosters randomly all over the place, and at Tin Roof there is a Rooster's (bar) across the street. Coincidence? Probably so.
A kick drum began to thump in a steady rhythm as the band Soulfinger finished up its sound check. This was no bar for a solo acoustic act, this was the place for an eight-piece funk band with horns, which is exactly what Soulfinger is. Tables had been cleared from the front of the stage to provide a space for folks to dance. The band launched into its set not long after 10 p.m., and the place was packed. As they started to play, the dance floor warmed up quickly and the whole room seemed up and moving to the music.
If you have read this column regularly, you know I am not a sports fan, and by default not a sports-bar fan. While The Tin Roof may not be where I would bring my group of friends, it is a fantastic establishment for the sports aficionado. A perfect balance between the amount of large flat-screen TVs and the amount of space that doesn't have them. This allows folks to come in after work or before going out for a big night of celebration to have a few drinks, some conversation and a snack off the well-stocked menu. Big props to one of the only "chain" establishments I have ever covered in my column. If you like sports or great live music, The Tin Roof is for you.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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