Pannell Construction

Building on Relationships

Pannell Construction works with business owners in the food and beverage industry to bring dream projects to life

Story by Matt McGarry | Photography by Nathan Sparks

How does Ben Grice, owner of the soon-to-be-opened Knoxville barbecue joint, Humble Hog, characterize his relationship with Pannell Construction? “I’ve been really lucky to find the right people at the right time,” says Grice. “Isaac is a straight shooter. Of course, in any business relationship it’s really important to deal with someone honest.  So, I feel very fortunate to be working with him on the Humble Hog.”

The ”Isaac” that Grice refers to is Isaac Pannell, owner of Pannell Construction. The company, founded by Isaac in 2020, is a licensed General Contractor serving Knoxville and the surrounding cities, and specializes in both residential and commercial construction. According to Pannell, the company seems to have found its niche in the food and beverage (F&B) industry, having completed nearly 20 F&B projects in just this past year.

Complexity of Construction

As you can imagine, there’s a great deal of complexity in commercial construction – in food service industry construction, in particular. As Pannell puts it, “Restaurants are simply a lot harder to build than, say, offices… With food service, there are a lot of moving parts.” And with those moving parts, come the all-important part: relationships.

It starts with the client. Take Ben Grice and Humble Hog, for instance. As partners, both Grice and Pannell are working to the same goal: to complete the project on time and open the new restaurant as scheduled.  Which is why they meet regularly to align on project progress.  Meanwhile, other “moving parts” and relationships come into play. Can the Grand Opening Day be scheduled with the media?  What equipment is needed? What equipment is best? What is needed in order to move forward with construction when you’re working with a 100-year old building? This is where relationships come into play – with architects, engineers, suppliers, city officials, regulatory agencies, and more.  

Trustworthy Collaborators

“I do love the challenge,” Pannell says. “Every project is different. One thing never changes, however. That is, that everyone must be aligned on milestones and that every effort is made to not only build what the client envisions, but to build it on schedule.” 

This is critically important to a small, start-up business where budgets are tight. And this is where solid relationships can make a difference. 

When it comes to these relationships, Pannell can’t overemphasize how important they are—to him and to his clients. He and his team have worked with a host of architecture firms that have brought this leading industry projects to life, including The Architecture Collaborative, Benefield-Richters, Sanders Place, OYSK3, Studio Four, Johnson Architecture, and DIA, among others.

“We’re fortunate to have great relationships with a number of engineers, architects, and suppliers of all kinds,” he says. “As Ben pointed out, its important – no matter what business you’re in – to know that the people you’re working with are reliable, trustworthy, and on board with doing whatever it takes to get the job done right and on time. It also means a great experience for everyone. When you provide that to the people you’re working with, they want to work with you again. We’ve seen repeat business more than once because of that, and I’m grateful to those individuals who come back to us for that reason.”

Achieving Dreams

There’s another reason, besides his love of a challenge, that inspires Pannell. “With every one of our restaurant projects, we’re partnering with someone who is looking to achieve a lifelong dream. Doing that takes a lot of grit, laying it all on the line to make a dream come true. How can you not be inspired by that?”


900 East Hill Avenue #140

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