Old City's Wagon Wheel rolls with simple approach

matt ward/special to knoxville.com
Rebekah Winkler, Jenni Braeuner and Carrie Bolling, from left, enjoy their night during the recent soft opening of Wagon Wheel in the Old City.

matt ward/special to knoxville.com Rebekah Winkler, Jenni Braeuner and Carrie Bolling, from left, enjoy their night during the recent soft opening of Wagon Wheel in the Old City.

Wagon Wheel

Downtown - Knoxville

Bar/Club

115 S. Central St.

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Wagon Wheel, a new bar in the Old City, is completely OK with being called a dive bar. In fact, if you find them on Facebook it says, “Wagon Wheel — Dive Bar.”

Why are they OK with it?

Because they should be.

Now don’t get all turned off and think about filth and poorly maintained equipment when you start thinking about a dive bar. Think of a place where you go to simply have a drink and maybe some pub grub.

I stumbled across Wagon Wheel one day while out flyering for various comedy events and decided to pay a visit to see just what they had planned for opening day.

First off, Wagon Wheel is located right next to Divinci’s Pizza on Central. Divinci’s serves pizza by the slice and stays open somewhat late. This is a win-win for a pub fan. You mean I have OTHER options right next door if Wagon Wheel’s steamed sandwiches don’t do it for me? Perfect. Not only that, but what if I get a few drinks in me and decide I want to go see a band? Well, I am sitting in a bar that has a handful of music venues within a short walk.

I entered Wagon Wheel and found the front part a wide-open space with broad gap-wood flooring that had to be as old as the building. The bar stretched out to the left and toward the back was the open-view kitchen giving it almost a bar/diner feel. Much of the original structure of the room remained intact, maybe that is the divey part. Either way, I was digging it. In a way, it resembles a smaller version of Suttree’s on Gay Street, which I’ve covered in a previous column.

I met Bobby McCarter, the manager of the place, and he gave me the rundown on what they were going for. The jukebox played some country and switched over to Creedence Clearwater Revival before I left the bar.

I have to hand it to Carleo’s Entertainment, if you own half of the venues in one neighborhood, it is best to make sure they don’t compete with one another. Wagon Wheel is likely a place that folks would go for a beer and a conversation that would never step foot in any of the other venues they own. Smart thinking, guys.

Grand opening celebration is Friday night in warm-up to its St. Paddy’s Day celebration. Check it out.

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The Wagon Wheel

115 S. Central Street

Knoxville, TN 37902

Hours: Thurs-Sun 7pm-3am

21 and Up non smoking (rare)

Web Site: https://www.facebook.com/wagon.wheel.395

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