It was a typical Friday night, trying to figure out where I was going to venture out to in order to complete my weekly nightlife piece. Weather was warm for late February and the traffic out on the roads seemed a bit heavier then normal. I intended on going to the Sunsphere to cover a new venue that took the place of The Skybox that closed in 2010. Before I headed downtown, I wanted to go down to check out a spot that just started doing comedy in Sevierville called 1341 Grill.
I headed east to Exit 407 and turned down Route 66 past the mountaintops leveled to eventually make way for a new mega shopping area. I watched as the orange cones I have come to know as permanent passed by as blurs restricting the concerned citizens speed to 35 miles per hour while locals flew by using 66 as the mini-highway they still considered it. After navigating a few twists and turns I found myself on Dolly Parton Parkway nearing my destination.
1341 Grill had obviously addressed a potential old marketing issue, which was likely folks asking, "Well, where is this place?" The venue is located at 1341 Dolly Parton Parkway just past the main row of businesses and shopping establishments east of downtown Sevierville. Allow me to interject at this point that Sevierville, the city name, allowed me to show my "out-of-townerness" when I first moved to neighboring Cocke County from North Carolina when I mistakenly pronounced it See-verville to a resident of the town. She did cut me a deal on her tomatoes on that day.
A little research showed that 1341 Grill had previously been Champs Bar, then most recently it had been the Stadium Sports Bar. Since the summer of 2011 the bar has been 1341 Grill. The bar is located off by itself away from the other establishments on that side of Sevierville. It is close enough to foothills of the Smoky Mountains that folks can make a quick trip over from Newport, but also close enough to 40 that folks from Knoxville can make it to the venue in under an hour.
When I arrived at the bar I had to employ some creative parking strategies because the parking lot was completely maxed out. Trucks were pulled up in the grass near the road and the neighboring parking lots of the other businesses were approaching the same status. I found a narrow spot probably better for a Honda Hybrid then a Honda Odyssey and craftily edged my way in.
I headed inside and started taking in the surroundings. As soon as you enter the bar there is a small room that seems as if it were set up to be the restaurant portion of the venue at one time but now was converted into a lounging area with various chairs. The bar was a little smoky, which bothers some and just makes me happy because I like freedom. I know some would say, "Well, don't I have the freedom to walk into a bar that isn't filled with smoke?" To which I respond, "Well, yes, you do, and those bars advertise that they are non-smoking so what are you doing going to one that doesn't?"
The venue is set up perfectly for entertainment. A large stage sits in the back of the room with ACTUAL stage lights. That sounds like a no-brainer, but many of the venues I have been to around the country that have live entertainment never take one second to think about how the audience will be able to see the folks on stage. The table seating around the bar — complete with table clothes and candles — was a nice touch. The separation of the front door from the main bar and stage area is the key. When folks come in the front door at 1341 talking up a storm it does not interrupt the show.
I headed up to the bar and took a seat as comedian Alex Stokes took the stage. Alex prepared the audience for the comedy show by going over the guidelines and letting them know what to expect, then got the laughs going with some material about his past relationships. He then introduced comedian Jeff Milsaps, who quite possibly intentionally referred to Sevierville as See-verville as I had. They quickly forgave him when he continued into a story about drunken shenanigans from after the previous night's comedy show. After his set Alex came back up and welcomed headliner Corey Forrester to a packed house of rowdy folks. Corey was able to wrangle the crowd on his side by talking about smoking bans and other hilarious topics, finishing out the night a local hero.
If you are in the vicinity of Sevierville, do yourself a solid by going out to 1341 to check out live comedy on Thursdays or Fridays, or live music on Saturday nights. Get yourself a cold one, find yourself a seat then prepare to be entertained.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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