Daniel's Bar and Grill
On a random day driving my 1-year-old son around trying to get him to take a nap, I came across Daniel's Bar & Grill. It sat curiously all by itself between a large shopping area near the intersection of Gov. John Sevier Highway and Chapman Highway in South Knoxville. The bar sat on the corner of an older shopping center called Highland View Center. The plaza contained Summit Church right next to Daniel's and an Asian massage place on the other side of the church. The look of the whole place screamed mid-1980s, so I knew I had to come back to scope out the history with the place.
I arrived on a Friday night to a decently crowded parking lot. The bar looks minuscule from the outside but once inside I could see seating for about 30 people as well as space for many more. "I'm on the Outside" by Staind played on the jukebox, inspiring a sing-along as I walked in the door and a clock struck half past nine. Fox News played on the TV behind the bar, but the volume was down and the closed-captioning was turned off, which is just the way I like to watch Fox News.
A blond bartender named Mary was just coming on shift and already hustling around to get beers for the patrons eager to quench their thirsts. I caught a few looks as I came in, indicating that everyone knew everyone else at the bar, on this specific night at least.
Queensryche's "Silent Lucidity" came on the jukebox and the sound of a rack breaking marked the beginning of a friendly game of pool, mixed with the chatter of the room while the occasional beeps of "Golden Tee" and electronic dart boards filled my ears.
Smoke wafted from the man sitting next to me. The air was quite thick with it. However, in my travels doing this article, I have grown used to it. That smell meant the bar was 21 and up. For those not familiar with Tennessee laws, you cannot have indoor smoking in a bar unless the minimum age is 21.
Only at the chorus did the crowd seem to come together to sing in varying timed unison. The phone began to ring as Mary selected a few new songs on the juke. She heard it after about four rings and abandoned her musical mission to dart behind the bar to complete her job of being everywhere at once. She was friendly and played along as some guys at the bar joked with her about not having to pay double gratuity since they had been there since before shift change.
The menu seemed pretty substantial and quite reasonable. The D-Burger came highly recommended.
Around the room there was a bowling game (similar to the "Golden Tee" golf game) pressing a pinball machine into submission against a wall almost as if to show its modern dominance. I found it smart that the bar sold dart-playing accessories, candy bars and lighters. I didn't really have a need for any of those things, but I definitely could see someone buying this stuff.
I did find out from Mary that the place had been around since 1989, so I was right on the money about the history thing. Daniel was the son of the original owner.
If you live in South Knoxville, south of Gov. John Sevier Highway but not quite to Seymour, you probably could call Daniel's a neighborhood bar. That's what the regulars call it.
Daniel's Bar & Grill
8537 Chapman Hwy
Knoxville, TN 37920
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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