It may not have been their original intention, but The Knoxville Pearl owners Jamie and Joe Johnson really have something unique and memorable going on with their store.
The plan for the Johnson's in 2007 was to create a bubble tea-themed shop, but they did not know how much demand there was around Knoxville. They needed some sort of food to go along with the drinks.
The two decided to serve cereal and Pop-Tarts, which turned out to be a good choice.
“Knowing that it was going to be an uphill battle trying to introduce [bubble tea], and no guarantee of success whatsoever, we knew we couldn’t have a shop like this,” Joe Johnson said. “We wanted like a hangout, a cool, little coffee shop thing. So we had to have some sort of food, something to add to the bubble tea.”
Now, set in the Old City, Knoxville’s first and only cereal bar carries over 100 different kinds of cereal and every Pop-Tart imaginable to go along with their bubble tea, or “Boba Tea,” as nicknamed there.
“We have literally every kind of cereal that you can buy in a store. The fun part is getting the seasonal and the limited editions and always having the new cereal before anyone else does,” Johnson said.
The price for Pop-Tarts is $1.25, “Boba Tea” is $4.50 and all-you-can-eat cereal is $6.75, unless you add toppings like whipped cream, chocolate syrup and marshmallows, which is encouraged.
“Instead of thinking of it as a bowl of cereal, we think of it as a bowl of ice cream. We mix and match different flavors together to create a new flavor,” Johnson said. “And being at night, it doesn’t feel wrong to do that, because you’ve had your food for the day. You’re out to relax and have a fun time.”
The two owners needed to create some sort of memorable atmosphere in their shop to match their menu’s uniqueness. In what was originally supposed to be just a simple lounging area turned into a quirky setup that only fittingly seems to work for The Knoxville Pearl.
“Every day we’re adding things, something quirky like He-Man characters, Star Wars masks, and even the lighting. We just add to it and build it, kind of like a cluttered home,” Johnson said. “We definitely set out to have grandma’s basement sort of feel when we started, and we’ve since kind of gone to like Clockwork Orange, techno trip-out.”
Old couches are scattered throughout the shop to provide comfort ability. And, to add to the shop’s lounge feeling, coloring books and Netflix are provided as well, ensuring guests can get the most out of their visit to the cereal bar.
The Knoxville Pearl is opened Monday through Thursday from 6 p.m. to midnight, except for Friday and Saturday, when it stays open until 2 a.m.
For more information concerning The Knoxville Pearl, please click here.