More Than a Food Hall


Kern’s Food Hall brings iconic Knoxville spot into the 21st century

When my dad was a kid, he and his friends had a particular house they’d always stop by during their Halloween trick-or-treating. They knew this house had a special treat for them – though maybe not the one you’d expect. See, this house stocked its pantry with fresh-baked Kern’s Bakery bread for Halloween. Despite all the other sugary treats on offer in the neighborhood, Dad always made time to pay that door a visit and get a piece of Knoxville’s history.

Because that is what Kern’s is – a piece of Knoxville’s history. And now with the opening of Kern’s Food Hall, there’s nothing stopping you from experiencing that history for yourself.

Ooh Lala Indian Kitchen

Kern’s Food Hall offers more than just baked goods these days – it offers fare from all over the world! And our first stop is to Ooh Lala Indian Kitchen, a taste of south Asia in our own backyard. There are plenty of vegetarian options, too; if you’ve never tried paneer, you should give it a try!

Zukku Sushi

Poke and sushi, sure, but what about sushi burritos? Choose from one of their specialties or build your own bowl or wrap. They also have a nice selection of teas and other beverages, including a selection of Japanese sodas. They do not, however, have hot lemonade, a Japanese beverage of which I am particularly fond – but I suppose I’ll make do with their delightful matcha.

Hemingway’s Cuban Kitchen

Take a seat in the line of yellow bar stools beneath the Hemingway’s sign and get ready for a sandwich (or a bowl, but I’d like to talk about sandwiches today). The restaurant’s namesake sandwich, the Hemingway Cuban, is of course on the menu, but you also have the chance to experience El Ultimo, the self-proclaimed “ultimate steak sandwich”. Does it live up to the title? I think I’ll let you decide.

Irvey’s Ice Cream Co.

Ice cream is ice cream (which means “good”) no matter where you get it, but there’s something special about ice cream truck ice cream – something that just screams (pun?) childhood. And Irvey’s is ice cream truck ice cream. Between running their trucks, however, Irvey’s has found time to set up a space here at Kerns for those of us who don’t have the time to track down that musical jingle anymore; it’s right here for us. And for that, all I can say is, “Thank you, Irvey’s.”

Monday Night Proofing Co.

Looking for a spot for a drink? How about a few? Monday Night Proofing Co. doesn’t just have one spot at the Food Hall – they have a spot for you no matter your mood. My recommendation? Head on up to the second floor to find a seat at the High Proof Loft. Pay a visit to the bar inside, but the best place to sit is out on the terrace overlooking the lawn, taking in the sounds and the Knoxville outdoors. Just don’t bring your Loft drinks downstairs – against the rules!

Ava Neopolitan Pizzeria

Want to see their oven? It’s just behind the counter, with their name on the front in decorative blue-and-white tile – you can’t miss it! That’s where they make that doughy cheesy goodness in classic Italian style that you’ll be eating in just a few short minutes. They also make subs and cannoli, but I don’t know how you can look at that oven and not ask them to stick a pizza in it for you.

Kandilige Ghanaian Cuisine

I’ve tried Ethiopian before, but I can’t say Ghanaian had found its way onto my plate. Starting off his journey at Real Good Kitchen, chef Ramsom Ayuba has found a permanent home here at Kern’s, serving up richly seasoned meat with jollof rice and a variety of other sides. All their offerings are halal as well – something not easy to come by here in Knoxville, so tell your friends if that’s something they’re looking for!

Flourish Flowers

Flourish Flowers was chosen by you, our Knoxville community, as 2023’s Best of the Best florist, and they’re bringing their floral expertise here to Kerns. Shop their full colorful collection, or commission a handmade arrangement. People are always telling us to stop and smell the roses, but I’d suggest taking a whiff of a few more of their offerings as well while summer is still fresh.

Won Kitchen

I recently discovered a love for Korean bowls during a visit down to Atlanta, and I was excited to discover we had a place of our own to scratch that particular itch here at home. Build your own rice or salad bowl full of protein, veggies, and a wild mix of sauces. I always go the spicy route myself, but bulgogi barbecue is nothing to sneeze at either!

Orange Nail Spa

If you’re looking to pamper more than just your stomach, perhaps the Orange Nail Spa (formerly the Vols Nail Spa) should be your next stop. I can’t claim to have personally experienced their Contega Spa Pedicure Chairs (a piece of equipment they’re proud to be the first in Knoxville to have used), but people seem to enjoy them, as every single seat was filled when I paid my latest visit to the Food Hall. And the decor, of course, would be the sort to make any true Volunteer proud.

Archer Paper Goods

Perhaps it’s simply the writer in me, but I think I might be a bit too excited about a paper goods store. Notebooks, pencils, greeting cards – basically anything you can think to put on paper (or make out of paper) you can find here. If you’re looking to personalize your office (or you’re like me and just have paper products everywhere in your home), this is that stop you might not think to make but absolutely should.

Vella Crew

Vella Crew is a creative space – a spot you can reserve for podcasts and all sorts of other endeavors. It has a very nice couch that was entirely free when I paid my visit, and I must admit I was very tempted to take a load off and write this entire article from that spot… but then I would have had to convince myself to leave and that seemed difficult.

Mae Lee’s Boutique

While this might not be the sort of store you’d find me shopping for clothes in, one look through the storefront window should be enough to show you just how many interesting finds Mae Lee’s Boutique has waiting for you. They have clothes in all shapes and sizes (something they pride themselves on) – plus, they have something called “Mother Trucker Custom Hats”. That alone, I think, warrants a visit.

Myrtle’s Bakehouse

Straight from the farmer’s market to Kern’s, this place is the place for homemade baked goods. Nothing you’re getting here is coming out of a box and getting cookie-cuttered into the oven. Nope. These cookies (and their other offerings, but also… just look at those cookies) are big, beautiful, and almost cake-like. I don’t know about you, but that’s just the sort of cookies I miss from my own grandmother. If you share my nostalgic fondness, this might just be the place for you.

Hey Bear Cafe

This place to me means boba tea (I have something of an addiction), but Hey Bear Cafe is a lot more than that! Coffees, lemonades, and other goodies grace these countertops. I’ve always been a classic matcha or taro milk tea kind of person, but you can build all sorts of combinations with all manner of curiosities!

Awaken Coffee

Did somebody say coffee? Abuzz with activity as soon as the doors open, you can grab yourself a cup of America’s favorite fuel and head onto your next downtown stop, or stay awhile and enjoy the atmosphere on the Grand Lawn.

And more!

In case that’s not enough to get you to pay a visit, more great picks are coming soon to the Food Hall. Eggspection is opening its first Tennessee location right here in Knoxville later this summer for all your brunching needs. Kerns is also welcoming Clean Smoke BBQ, the Amaryllis Taqueria, and T. Ralph’s Burgers, and there’s always potential for even more newcomers to the scene. This is definitely a place to keep an eye on, even if we’ve outgrown trick-or-treating for bakery bread.

You can check out the full menus of all of the Kern’s restaurants (and other attractions) here, or pay them a visit at 2201 Kern’s Rising Way.

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