Al Fresco

As many of you may know this year marked Tomato Head’s 25th anniversary.  But after our big celebration in August, we didn’t dwell too much in retrospective – there’s too much going on in our city and in our business to linger overlong on memory lane.  But as our 25th anniversary year winds slowly to a close and with the onset of summer and the increasingly de rigueur proliferation of “June is bustin’ out all over” memes, I find myself drifting back to memories of the first warm evenings eating outside on Market Square.

Like so many things we now take for granted, al fresco dining in downtown Knoxville was a rare treat, mostly relegated to sunny lunchtime escapes from the florescent tyranny of office work.  Our first moments dining in the waning sun weren’t particularly glamourous either – it feels very improvisational in memory: tables and chairs scraping across our threshold as we drag them outside to enjoy an al fresco slice or two almost all alone at first and, later, with a handful of friends. There was a time when the city virtually subsidized our seating – when customers sat at public tables on the square and we, happy to have guests at all in the evening, ran back and forth across the square to serve them.  Memories can be beautiful and a little exhausting, too.

Tomato Head’s Market Square Patio photo:

I’d like to describe those moments as prescient, but the call of a pleasantly warm evening inspires many of us to set a table in the open air; and, of course, the as yet unsung beauty of the still, quiet square made a compelling backdrop, an urban equivalent of a verdant and mountainous vista that might tempt anyone who was paying attention as we were then.

The silence of the square is mostly gone, and outdoor seating is a rule rather than exception; but the liveliness brings a different kind of delight to al fresco dining – one that’s communal, joyful.  And you can hear that joy in the chatter of friends and the clinking of glasses, which recalls a time when sips of cool, crisp wine and a cold swallow of a pale ale were forbidden out of doors on the square.

So much has changed for the better, but the best things remain much the same: good food, good friends, and the agreeable atmosphere created by breaking bread together under the summer sun.  In addition to our patio on Market Square, we have a lovely covered patio at the Gallery – both of which await you and yours with a menu full of good eats, refreshing drinks, and the satisfying sensation of an al fresco summer meal.

We look forward to seeing you on our patios soon.