Jun 5 2007
06:11 am

Looks like the City of Knoxville is going to subsidize those $50 Ruth's Chris steaks.

Remarks in the article about Riverside not being "viable" are puzzling. It was one of the better restaurants in town when it opened, and always seemed to be doing pretty good business whenever we were there. There's also a dispute about parking. We've never had a problem parking there.

The article has some confusing and conflicting statements:

"The city doesn't get any revenues from 1 percent of zero gross receipts, nor does it benefit from having an empty restaurant should it close. With Ruth's Chris, based on their national averages, we think it will be a good relationship," [city spokesperson Randy] Kenner said.

But the article says Riverside owes the city $86,000. So it doesn't sound like they were getting 1% of nothing. $86,000 is 1% of $8.6 million.

With the new deal, the city would let them off the hook for the $86,000 and not charge Ruth's Chris any rent going forward. So will the city still pay the lease to the U.S. government? Wonder how much that is?

Sounds like there's more to this deal than meets they eye. We wonder if the $86,000 is what was holding up the deal, and the City is caving in to make it happen and trying to put a positive spin on it. At any rate, it seems like nobody wants to do business downtown unless they get something from the taxpayers for their troubles.

Stick Thrower's picture

Not really a takeover...

Riverside ("not viable") is subleasing to Ruth's Chris. That's brilliant.

The city is folding because they apparently have no cards. And, if Riverside writes rent out of their 85-year lease agreement, the city isn't even in the game.

That's a prime spot on the river. As this entire deal moves forward, it's getting harder to pick the biggest sucker, with current contenders being:

1) the U.S. Government,
2) the city of Knoxville,
3) Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, and
4) UT Football Boosters uh, Knoxvillians willing to pay $50 for a Ruth's Chris steak.

Oh, and maybe:

5) Local taxpayers who think there isn't some good ol' boy backroom dealing going on.

Hey, perhaps a bus transfer station would work on that location!

R. Neal's picture

Hey, perhaps a bus transfer

Hey, perhaps a bus transfer station would work on that location!


Ennui's picture

So basically the taxpayers

So basically the taxpayers are going to subsidize a place where they can't afford to eat? Lovely.

Pickens's picture

Paper said it passed six to

Paper said it passed six to two.

Any ideas who voted which way?

Rachel's picture

IIRC, Frost & Hall voted

IIRC, Frost & Hall voted "no."

Ennui's picture

Appears Mike Chase was just

Appears Mike Chase was just tickled at the sweetheart deal aka business as usual in the gummint-cozy developer-prominent citizen-relationship.

The news mentioned again the possibility of a parking related lawsuit and how Riverside withheld payments willingly. The city couldn't get this behind them fast enough. Eat 86k? Tell your employees you have no money for raises? Could that 86k be used to alleviate the suffering of the homeless situation? Reinvested in community improvements?

Bbeanster's picture

The way gubmint continually

The way gubmint continually screws with Mike Chase is one of the most interesting back stories going.

Here's a guy who built a business from nothing -- without TIFs or PILOTs. He bought the Copper Cellar on Cumberland after the original owners went bankrupt; then, he followed that up by buying other bankrupt restaurant locations and transforming them from money pits into moneymakers. At one time, Calhouns on the River was the highest grossing sit-down restaurant in Tennessee (excluding a mega-McDonalds on an interstate ramp in the Nashville area, iirc). May still be -- I haven't checked lately.

So what does he get? He gets the state/city trying to close down Chesapeakes for the downtown "tunnel" construction. He gets the state trying to take Calhouns West for an interstate interchange. He gets Victor Ashe trying to muscle him off the waterfront and then, when Chase won't be moved, he gets the city subsidizing competition moving in (Riverside Tavern, Boathouse Grill or whatever the hell it is now).
Then he gets the Ragsdale administration closing down the CC Parking Garage without even taking into account that he'd wrangled a parking deal there.
And now, after both his gubmint subsidized competitors have lost their shirts, one of them is coming back for another bite.

Mike Chase has a right to be pissed.

It's hard to do business in Knoxville and be a Democrat.

R. Neal's picture

And don't forget the memo to

And don't forget the memo to Knox Co. employees that they wouldn't be reimbursed for meals at Chase restaurants. Or that when it came up in a commission meeting there were rumors about the "health department". (If I recall all that correctly.)

Ennui's picture

The Tennessee er...Boathouse

The Tennessee er...Boathouse Grill. Now that was a great idea.

Whaddya mean people don't want to crosswalk a busy 4 lane road replete with speeders and college age drivers to eat a meal?

Well how about valet parking?

Whaddya mean people don't trust young folk to drive their car across said busy 4 lane road?

Bbeanster's picture

Exactly, Ennui. Call me

Exactly, Ennui.
Call me crazy, but I think somebody really, really, really wanted to screw with Chase.

That 'BOIIIINGing' sound is a humongous backfire.

I thought of a couple more slings and arrows aimed at Big Mike:

How could I forget the "Don't eat at Calhouns" edict out of Ragsdale's office last summer?

Or the threat to "expose" Chesapeake's as a hotbed of disease when an employee came down with hepatitis while on a vacation trip?

knxnicole's picture

Yes,democrats do get screwed

Yes,democrats do get screwed in this town. Look at John Kinsey, democratic mayor of Chattanooga and big Bredesen supporter. He was the only one who stepped up to do Market Square when everyone else ducked and he has gotten kicked around since. The last straw is that he got forced to spend a whole bunch of money to fix the emporium for the CITY. Fair????

Bbeanster's picture

Kinsey got screwed? Yeah,

Kinsey got screwed?
Yeah, right.
What looking glass did you step through?

bill young's picture

Saw it on the tee vee

Flippin around last night & hit City Council meeting.
Mr.Regas speaking for;Mike speaking against.
I knew something was up & it werent peanuts.

How on earth were council members going to split this baby?
Folks running for re election had to switch off auto pilot.
Play this wrong & it could get you beat.Not only for this
time but for all time.

When Mike Chase plays politics
It's a 110%

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