Clinton Highway has a long reputation of being the armpit of Knoxville, Tennessee. This peculiar patch of Northwest Knoxville has always been a bit bedraggled and somewhat dangerous–its roads and some of its people. It was on this long stretch of road where James Agee’s daddy died in a single-vehicle accident.
Knoxville ex-pat Suzanne Johnson recalls, “You only went someplace on Clinton Highway if you needed something you couldn’t get anywhere else on the planet–like getting a discontinued Eureka vacuum repaired. If you are going to Clinton Highway for a business, it’s for a specific reason.”
Today, Clinton Highway is scattered with strip malls filled with fast food chain restaurants and big box stores like Walmart, Target, and Home Depot. The highway’s lengthy sprawl is still dotted with used car lots, pawn shops, and kitschy landmarks like the Airplane Service Station and Ciderville Music Store. Just yesterday Smile Spa massage parlor was busted for offering happy endings.
A gem within this eclectic mix is Vic’s Beer Store & Cigar Shoppe, located just off of the intersection of Clinton Highway and Schaad Road, behind Goodyear Tires. Since its creation three years ago, as a side-by-side business with the six year old Vic’s Package Store, co-owners Garrett Jernigan and Tim England have been steadily growing the business into a fun and safe neighborhood pub that’s big on craft beers and community service.
It’s the only place like this around here. – Jeremiah Owens
Vic’s is the best bar in town. Nice people, good beer, great space, and just far enough from downtown to stay that way a while longer. – Jake Livesay
I love the bearded & helpful people who work there. They are always super friendly and are more than happy to recommend something new and tasty when I’m in the mood to get weird with it. – Tansey Lewis
I like Vic’s for the local scene and the easy and relaxed atmosphere. – Charles Coffman
Co-Owner Tim England says, “We have developed a good crowd here. We see regulars at least 2-to-3 times a week. For the first year we didn’t carry domestic bottled beers to keep the riff-raff at bay.”
Vic’s is not a typical sports bar, either. Even though there are numerous televisions indoors and outdoors, England says, “People don’t pay much attention to the T.V., except when UT football is being played, or when a new episode of The Walking Dead is on. During the show’s third season, we stayed open a little later on Sunday nights to accommodate The Walking Dead fans.” (The 4th season begins October 13th!)
Vic’s is also exemplary because it hosts numerous fundraisers throughout the year. When Travis, a Vic’s employee, required a double lung transplant due to cystic fibrosis complications, he needed $10,000 for six months of living expenses during his recovery in another state. Through private fundraisers hosted by Travis’ parents, along with four fundraisers at Vic’s, hosted by a local community service club called Keys, Travis’ recovery expenses were collected in full thanks to supportive patrons.
Vic’s and Keys continue to host periodic fundraisers for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Musical duo, South of Broad, and Vic’s recently held a Beat Teams benefit to purchase used instruments and amplifiers for the Joy of Music School. Vic’s, again with Keys, also hosted a two evening corn hole tournament to benefit a special Habitat for Humanity project.
Vic’s wins creativity bonus points for hosting an unusal barbering event to kick-off 2012’s “No-Shave” November.
So, there is no need to drive to Bearden or Downtown to find quality beer and a fun atmosphere. All it takes is one visit to become part of the tribe at Vic’s Beer Store & Cigar Shoppe.
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© Debra Dylan 2013.