Happy Holler, a sliver of commercial lots surrounded by a predominately industrial area, welcomed a new restaurant to the neighborhood on Oct. 4.
Holly Hambright extended her business from Bearden and opened a new location on Central Street. On the same block as her sister's bakery, Magpies Cakes, Hambright now occupies the space left vacant after Central Street Books relocated.
While "books" remains visible, the temporary sign reads "Holly's Corner" and the space is certainly hers.
Booths line the left portion of the area, wooden tables of various sizes fill most of the dining area and a bar occupies the other side. The white walls and dark wooden accents unify the entirety of the restaurant. A portrait of Holly and company posed like "The Last Supper" hangs in a window, and covers of "The New Yorker" that hang above the booths are the only decorations in the space.
Its design and details, done by former UT architecture professor Charles Draper, the restaurant needs little else since the food speaks for itself, said Happy Holler customer Alex LaGraff.
LaGraff is familiar with Hambright's capabilities because she catered his wedding reception.
"I liked the pimento cheese the best," LaGraff said.
For the celebratory opening, Hambright offered a menu tasting with a price tag of only $5.
"I'm only going to charge while the food lasts," Hambright said. "We're donating the money either way."
Salads, "famous" candied bacon and multiple dips were just some of the options to grace guests' tastebuds.
In addition to the buffet, soup "shots" of creamy mushroom and chicken and rice were served by employees milling about the space. Jenna Hancock, one of two soup waitresses, has worked with Hambright since February.
"I'm a South Knoxville native, so I've known about Holly's for my whole life," Hancock said. "I actually live right behind here, so it's really cool that this is opening up.
"I'm excited about there being such good food in Happy Holler."
Marion Forbes, one of Hambright's daughters, was on hand to greet guests, but stayed away from the food.
"I'm a picky eater, so it's kind of ironic since I don't really like lots of the things she makes," Forbes said. "It's nothing against her, she's just stopped taking my opinion after awhile. My sister eats everything though."
The family is full of culinary creators.
Forbes works with her Aunt Peg at Magpies Cakes, the bakery beside Holly's Corner, and her sister works full time with their mother.
"My mom's mother, Grandma Hazel, cooked all of the time," Forbes said. "(Holly and Peg) got everything from her and spawned in their own directions."
LaGraff said he was delighted by the addition of a delicious local restaurant.
"We live two miles from here, and it's nice to see new restaurants come to the area," he said. "It's kind of like a revival."