As my regular readers know, I have made it my mission to cover venues that have never been covered before in my nightlife column. I do this because most of the bars in the area don't change much and because my predecessor, Greg Wood, was very good at painting the picture of what they were all about — which makes it difficult to give a new spin to a place that he had covered previously.
Also, the new bars are the ones people want to know about. Most folks who would read an article about nightlife are already aware of Preservation Pub and Barley's Taproom and places like that. However, they don't know much about the dimly lit neighborhood bar they keep passing on the way home from work every day.
That's where I come in.
This mission sometimes takes me to places that I end up not covering.
I ran into such a bar when I drove up Amherst Road in West Knoxville almost a year ago to cover a place I found on Google Maps called "Rocky's." When I arrived there were beat-up cars there, one with duct tape on the plastic that was put up in place of the driver's side window. That didn't stop me, however. But the fact that the bar had every single window covered and a barely visible open sign poking out certainly did. (If you don't want people to see in your bar, I probably don't want to see what's in your bar.)
Flash forward to this past weekend. This time, the beer permits had tipped me off to a new bar having opened once again on Amherst Road. I didn't really recognize the address, but as I started getting closer to it, I said out loud with a creeped-out voice, "This all seems too familiar." As I came up the road I saw a brightly lit sign that said "Susan's Happy Hour" in place of the one that formerly said "Rocky's." I was hopeful, and as I got closer I could tell someone had spruced up the place to say the least: They had removed whatever was covering the windows, and the lighting inside was bright and inviting.
The odd thing about the bar's placement is probably an advantage in the end. Amherst Road connects with Middlebrook Pike not far from Weisgarber Road in West Knoxville. Susan's Happy Hour sits right in the middle of many industrial buildings. Being a bar that serves food and opens at 11 a.m. every day, this becomes a big advantage. No longer do these employees have to drive a few miles down the road to get their lunch. Also, no longer do they have to drive a distance to have a happy hour drink after a long work shift.
Susan's Happy Hour is a small, unassuming bar. When you first walk in, you'll see a few pool tables to your left and the bar directly in front of you. I encountered two smiling bartenders behind the bar — Stephanie Prince, the owner's daughter, and Sarah Ferweda. The bar had a few wayward souls pulled up to it. They were huddled close together and talking in varying tones, barely noticing me until I made the mistake of snapping a shot to get the lighting set correctly on my camera.
I introduced myself to Stephanie and talked with her a little about the bar's history. I took a look around and stepped out back to see that they have a substantial patio area. I walked out and was blown away. The patio was large enough to hold around 150 people. It was completely fenced in and had a stage just to the right. In the very back it had a basketball hoop. Score! I may not be into sports much, but I know for a fact that three beers in on a warm Saturday night in the spring or summer I would be shooting hoops to the annoyance of the other patrons. I envision myself getting into a furious game of one-on-one with a biker wearing cowboy boots. I picture myself being schooled as if this biker was some type of basketball shark, dunking on me and nailing three pointers from directly off the aforementioned stage.
The bar is beer only, but sometimes that's all you need. When the weather is warm, take a moment to drive through the industrial park on Amherst Road and pay a visit to Stephanie or her mother, Susan, at Susan's Happy Hour. You will find a pleasant surprise of a good time when you get there. You might even catch me pretending to play one-on-one basketball with a biker on the patio.
Susan's Happy Hour
1482 Amherst Road
Knoxville, TN 37919
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11am-11pm Fri-Sat
Smoking inside: Yes
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!