North Knoxville is not filled with watering holes, bars, pubs, lounges, public houses, tap rooms, saloons or gastropubs. It has lots of parks and a good amount of restaurants, some of which are locally owned, iconic and indescribably delicious. In my occasional search of new business licenses in Knox County I found a place in the Powell community of North Knoxville called Corvette's Bar-B-Que and Catering. The owner's name was listed as Ron Corvette, so I felt better about the fact that it wasn't some Pigeon Forge-esque themed restaurant just trying to appeal to Corvette enthusiasts. I Googled the address and found it was near the corner of Brickyard and Emory roads.
I arrived around 9 p.m. and pulled up to the restaurant side of the establishment, which has two entrances. The entrance I parked in front of was for the restaurant. Inside I could see some serving staff and a few families sitting down to eat. There was a no-smoking sign on the door along with the restaurant's hours.
I looked down the building to the right and found the second entrance. As I walked up I could see folks inside throwing darts and an ample amount of seating in a relatively small room. I entered and headed to the bar. Right off the bat I met Ron Corvette, the purveyor of the establishment, serving drinks from behind the bar.
I have to disclose a bias in this situation: I am a big fan of meeting the owners of the places I cover. You never learn more about a spot than when you get the inside scoop from the person who depends on its success for their livelihood. Even more importantly, this owner was working side by side as hard as his employees to take care of the customers.
Without prompting, Ron shook my hand warmly and introduced himself from the side of the bar. He asked me what I would be having and I placed my brew order.
He quickly filled me in about how he took over the restaurant this past February. He said the barbecue offerings did not change in recipe or variety: "People loved the food, so I didn't change a thing."
Before Ron took over, the restaurant side was all that was open to the public. Ron was a patron of Brickyard Bar-B-Que and eventually his friends convinced him to purchase the establishment from then-owner Thomas Pitner. (Pitner went on to purchase Beer:30 just up the road.) Ron told me he was taking a more active approach to building a relationship with his customers than the bar had before. When I spoke with some of his customers, they all spoke quite highly of Ron and what he had done to improve the bar.
Ron made me try (a real arm twister) the beef brisket, which he told me was the top food offering you HAD to try when coming to Corvette's. I drank down my second beer and my brisket arrived in a to-go container so I could take it home to my wife. My new friend Bubba Tillman, sitting down the bar from me, said warmly, "You are going to want to try that hot." I smiled and had a few more sips of my beer before finally succumbing to the curiosity inspired by his statement. Let's just say folks, NONE of the brisket made it home. It was the best I had ever tasted. Sorry, Jennifer.
Coming Saturday night at Corvette's is a dart tournament with a cash guarantee for the overall winner as well as a mystery-out payout. Also that night the Dos Santos Vs. Mir UFC Fight will be broadcast. If you are hungry, start in the restaurant with some mouth-pleasing barbecue (BEEF BRISKET!), then join them on the bar side for the other festivities. Great food, great atmosphere and great people at Corvette's.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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