The West Hills area in West Knoxville is dominated by West Town Mall. I say dominated because the highways and roads are built to accommodate it in a way that you can't avoid it if you get off at any exit within two miles of it.
West Town was built in 1972, and unlike many malls built in that time period, it still exists and draws parking lots full of shoppers each holiday season.
The mall is on Kingston Pike amid a hustling, bustling strip of restaurants, various retail establishments and countless local entrepreneurial ventures. In my nightlife column I have covered a good number of venues that were in this corridor of businesses, including The Edge, Babe's Lounge, Paul's Oasis, Bucket Head Tavern and Ray's ESG. All these places are within two miles of each other, but each seems to cater to a unique group of people.
I had visited The Ale House at 7125 Kingston Pike on a few occasions for a beer and to watch some friends do stand-up. The place is a little hard to find. In fact, just about every time I have gone there I forget which exit off the freeway I need to take and which road I need to turn on to get to it. I don't know why this is a recurring problem because it is hard to forget a bar that is located in the same plaza as a place named Alimony's Hair & Nail Salon..
I came back to the place on Saturday, Dec. 8, and found it had changed its name to Twisted Mike's Taproom.
The look of the place was the same save one huge difference: It was packed!
The regulars at the Ale House were always friendly, all seven of them. ... At Twisted Mike's I was greeted with the tell-tale sign a bar is packed — a half dozen people were standing outside the front door talking and smoking.
Inside, the patrons were partying it up for a grand opening/owner's birthday party. Folks were standing and sitting from door to door as I made my way to the bar in hopes of catching up with Mike himself. A group of folks was stationed at the bar, and I had to mentally decipher whether they were waiting to order a drink or just standing next to their seats. After a few minutes I got to the bartender who directed me to Mike's general location. A patron sitting in the last seat at the back of the bar pointed to the door and said, "He just walked in."
I introduced myself, and Mike and I went outside and talked about his vision for the place: a pub with something going on every night they are open, from Texas Hold 'Em to live music and comedy. Mike is setting out to make his Tap Room more than simply a local bar.
The stage is near the door and there's a built-in sound system (much more than most bars in this area have), so Mike's is already setup for live entertainment. The venue itself probably maxes out at about 70 people or so, but this makes it perfect for a cozy spot to stop after work for a beer and a bite to eat.
Although the Ale House permitted indoor smoking, it's not allowed at Twisted Mike's, and I find that's a relief. The older I get the more annoyed I am by smelling like an ashtray at the end of the night.
I am excited for the new establishment in this part of town. Remember it while you are out doing your last-minute Christmas shopping and stop by for a drink. Grab a high gravity brew or a Chrismassy Cocktail and a bite to eat.
You likely will be back.
I know I will!
Twisted Mike's Tap Room
7125 Kingston Pike
Knoxville, TN 37919
Age Restriction: 21 and Up
Smoking Inside: No
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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