Short Stay: Knoxville Renaissance

News anchor Tearsa Smith is never

bored in an emerging tech town

By Sean Drakes

“As long as I am in this field my life is never going to be boring,” says  Tearsa Smith, a morning and noon news anchor for ABC affiliate WATE–TV 6 News.  That sentiment also applies to her adopted hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee.  Charming and quaint with a population of about 174,000, Knoxville is noted for its contributions to country music and the 1982 World’s Fair international expo.  Among its acclaimed locals are poet Nikki Giovanni and William Henry Hastie, the first African American federal magistrate judge and governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Anchorwoman and city insider Tearsa Smith. Photo: Sean Drakes

Smith points to the new convention center, Turkey Creek shopping district and the $25 million restoration of the Tennessee Theatre as indicators of Knoxville’s diligence to develop.  A $2.5 million business incubator at University of Tennessee is one of three high-tech support projects that defines Knoxville’s reputation as Innovation Valley.  Originally from Miami, Florida, Smith says Knoxville is a burgeoning media hub with several production companies that support cable TV producer Scripps Networks, which is headquartered in Knoxville and whose presence creates employment for writers, marketing professionals, producers and production crew.

Restaurant chain Ruby Tuesday’s, movie theater chain Regal Cinemas, and processed foods producer Bush Brothers & Co. are also based here.  Expansion Management has Knoxville on its 2007 list of 50 Hottest Cities for Expanding Companies.  The nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory, according to Smith, attracts computer science professionals, researchers and engineers to the metro area.  But registered nurses, elementary school teachers and auditors outnumber other professions in Knoxville.

“I’m a big shopper, and actually ran the Knoxville Expo 5k/10k,” shares Smith.  The Knoxville 100/Casey C. Jones Golf Tournament hosted by 100 Black Men of Greater Knoxville “is a great time for golfers to visit or plan a business trip, tournament proceeds provide “Promise for the Future” scholarships for young men in the mentoring program.”  The Knoxville Opera Rossini Festival [has] “an Italian wine tasting hour, it is one of my favorite events that showcases the city’s love of the arts.”  The Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival and Women Today Expo are other uniquely Knoxville events, visit City of Knoxville for a full lineup.


Tearsa Smith’s City Insights:

STAY:  Built in 1799, the Maple Grove Inn 8800 Westland Drive is a Georgian-style house, each of its seven suites is uniquely styled and some have a fireplace.  “My favorite room is the Maple Suite,” offers Smith.  “Rooms are spacious and don’t feel [like] commercial hotels.”

Four Points by Sheraton Knoxville Cumberland House Hotel 1109 White Avenue is a centrally-located swank, boutique property in the Fort Sanders Historic District.  It’s just steps from the Knoxville Convention Center and University of Tennessee.

DINE:  It’s tradition at Pasta Trio 119 South Central St. (865) 540-3970 to bring a bottle of wine for your dinner.  You sign the empty before adding it to the installation that’s a centerpiece of the decor.  Entrées such as the Cajun pasta which Smith says, “is extremely spicy and beyond good,” are mid-range at $20.

Baker Peter’s Jazz Club 9000 Kingston Pike “is an old mansion converted into a jazz club/restaurant with intimate lighting,” describes Smith.  “It’s like eating in someone’s home.  The food is consistently good.”  Her recommendation: the port wine duck confit with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, sautéed spinach and port wine-blueberry syrup.

SHOP:  Bliss Home & Art  24 Market Square (888) 809-2424 is a cozy shop trading in vintage home accessories, glassware and novelties.  It stands out in Knoxville’s charming Market Square district.  “I got a funky wine holder there.”

Knoxville Soap Candle & Gifts 4889 Broadway (865) 689-6545 “is one of my personal favorite [shops], it’s a pamper-me-shop with every type of cream you can imagine, it’s like being at a spa.”

SEE:  “I recently went to see the opera Carmen,” at the Tennessee Theatre 604 South Gay Street.  “Every time I go there it takes my breath away, the Theatre brings old Hollywood glamor to Knoxville.  Bill Cosby, John Legend and Clay Aiken have performed here.

The Comedy Zone 9246 Park West Blvd.  “My husband and I double date here quite often.  You will leave with a pain in your side from laughter!”


Previously published.

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