As the chilling winds of winter begin to pillage Knoxville, the search is on for a refuge from the bitter cold.
Fortunately for Knoxville residents, in the heart of the Old City there lies a charming coffee shop with just the Remedy.
Remedy, a downtown coffee shop, offers the people of Knoxville rich Intelligentsia coffee, locally handmade pastries, free Wi-Fi and an 1,800 square foot area known as "The Backroom" that can be rented out for events and gatherings.
Sean Alsobrooks, local pastor of Knoxlife Church, opened Remedy in 2009 with a unique vision.
"We were looking for a place in the city that we could move our new church into," Alsobrooks said. "But our heart was to have something that was for our city, not just a church building that was only used on Sundays."
After months of searching, Alsobrooks discovered an old office building off of Jackson Avenue and realized its potential.
"We started looking around the Old City and found the space," Alsobrooks said. "It had this awesome backroom where we could meet on Sunday mornings, and then the front could be an incredible coffee shop that we could use the rest of the week."Knoxlife Church met in Remedy's back room for eight months before Alsobrooks was able to gather the means to open the front as a fully-functioning coffee shop. Little by little, the church raised the funds to open Remedy through donations and fundraisers.
Though the concept of the coffee shop was created and carried out by a church, Alsobrooks emphasizes Remedy's atmosphere is one that welcomes everyone in the community."We want people to experience a sense of neighborhood," Alsobrooks said. "From the beginning, we've always said that Remedy is not a church coffee shop. The church owns it, the church runs it, but we don't want it to be a church coffee shop where just 'church people' come. We want it to be a neighborhood coffee shop."
Alsobrooks said Remedy has been well received by the people of Knoxville.
"There are a lot of locals who feel like it's their place." Alsobrooks said. "We have a great vibe. It's not work, it's not home; it's a place where you can get to know people. We'd like to invite people to step into that."Todd Young, a barista at Remedy for the past year, said building genuine relationships with people is always of great importance to him.
"The people are my favorite part about working here," Young said. "It's interesting to see the diverse range of people who come in.
Between the businessmen who come by in the early mornings, to the Bible studies and community groups that meet in the back, I get to see a lot of different aspects of people's lives in the community and how they interconnect.
"We're very much about getting to know people in the community. It's a huge part of what we do. The coffee is good too, but mostly it's the people."
Peter Jantsch, a third year graduate student in mathematics, said he frequents Remedy because the relaxed environment increases his productivity.
"I like the atmosphere. It's quiet," Jantsch said. "You get a lot of work done. It's better than Starbucks."
Eddie Tu, a third year graduate student in mathematics, said he enjoys the ambiance as well.
"I always get a lot done when I come here," Tu said. "I love the high ceilings, the coffee's good, and I think the atmosphere really fosters community."
Although its emphasis on facilitating the spirit of community is a refreshing and unique quality, some may be interested to know Remedy is unlike many other businesses in Knoxville."We're a nonprofit, so after we pay all of our bills, taxes and employees, we try to give back to the city," Alsobrooks said. "It's a neat thing, because when you're buying coffee at Remedy, it's not going to a corporation, and it's not just for profit; it's going to help someone in your own city."
Remedy's commitment to serve Knoxville has impacted local divisions of several organizations, such as the YWCA and Habitat for Humanity, as well as Beardsley Community Farm, located off Western Avenue.
Though it could be hard to believe a business can maintain such interlocked connection and pure devotion to its community, Remedy is a testament that it can be done and done well."Our tagline is 'Coffee and Conversation,'" Alsobrooks said. "We want it to just be a place where you come, see people that you know, meet up with friends, make new friends and of course, have great coffee.
"Beyond having a coffee culture, we wanted a community culture. I hope that when people walk in, they feel like it's a place they can be, and that they're welcome."