OliBea Owner Closes Old Town HenHoc Butcher Shop in Downtown Knoxville
Some businesses in downtown Knoxville are experiencing record highs, while others are experiencing record highs. Chef Jeffrey DeAlejandro has one of each.
The HenHoc butcher shop in Old Town has closed, with DeAlejandro citing more people willing to dine out during this phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and fewer people needing fresh-cut meat to cook at home.
On the other hand, DeAlejandro told Knox News that his restaurant OliBea is having some of its best business ever. But that doesn’t make HenHoc’s loss any easier.
“At the end of the day, it was definitely a passion project,” he said of the butcher shop. “I always wanted to do it. It was something I wanted to do before OliBea.”
Sunday was the last day of business for the butcher shop, located at 123 S. Central St.
HenHoc is just the latest in a recent string of downtown restaurants announcing their closures. Po’ Richard’s also had its last day of business on Sunday, marking the first food hall vendor to leave Marble City Market, while Wicked Chicken closed to make way for a Harvest in the city center location on Gay Street.
DeAlejandro said HenHoc’s downward trend began about five months ago, with twice-weekly customers starting to come in once.
But the past two years in business have taught DeAlejandro a lot — just like the past week, he said, as ideas “swirled” in his mind about what to do next with the space.
DeAlejandro said he has a long-term lease and hopes to have something new in the space next month. It can be a new catering concept, a pop-up or a partnership with another company.
“At the moment, I don’t know what the next step is,” he said. “There are some really cool ideas that I thought of. … We’re just grateful to our lovely little old town and downtown and Knoxville for sticking with us.”
The butcher shop was located right next to OliBea’s original location, which moved to 211 S. Central St. in February 2020.
The old site of OliBea is being renovated to become Alchemy, a cigar lounge and bar at 119 S. Central St.