Sober nightlife is sparse in Knoxville, but a no-alcohol bar by Frog Juice is coming soon
Sober activities are easy to find during the day – just go on a walk or grab some coffee.
But after dark, Frog Greishaw told Knox News, it seems like drinking is all that's left for anyone wanting a night on the town.
To accommodate the thirst some Knoxvillians have for no-alcohol nightlife, the Frog Juice Kombucha CEO is bringing mocktails, kava and, of course, kombucha to what she has named The Boocherie.
It's part of a small but growing "sober curious" movement happening nationwide.
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"Pretty much, as an adult, bars or church are kind of your hangouts, right?" Greishaw said. "A lot of friends of ours that are in recovery ... want a space that they're not going to be around alcohol or triggered. There's no nighttime spaces like that."
The sober bar, located next to River Sports Outfitters on Sutherland Avenue, will host a grand opening June 9.
The concept sort of fell in Greishaw's lap, as did Frog Juice, which she started eight years ago in Chicago after friends suggested turning her passion into a business.
The big leap paid off. Greishaw said Frog Juice has roughly 170 retail partners across East Tennessee, including Trailhead Beer Market, which vacated the Sutherland Avenue space after roughly two years in business but remains open on Island Home Avenue.
When one door closes, another one opens.
"I bartended for 20 years, and I read that kombucha was a great hangover cure," she said. "I started brewing kombucha to have get-back-in-the-game juice, basically. ... In the process, I stopped drinking altogether."
She's not alone, as celebrities like Chrissy Teigen have announced their decision to give up booze in recent years. NielsenIQ shared stats in January about the sober curious movement, noting that Americans spent $3.3 billion in 2021 on non-alcohol or low-alcohol products to enjoy at home.
USA TODAY also reported online marketplace Etsy saw a 205% rise in searches for "sober or dry gifts" between Dec. 1, 2020, and February 28, 2021, compared with the previous year.
Frog Juice Kombucha also is growing. The company recently moved its production from Maryville to a larger Knoxville facility, Greishaw said.
Menu designed with the sober in mind
Every sober person has a unique reason why they quit drinking — or never started in the first place. Greishaw said she has lost many friends to drinking and, as a bartender, feels some level of responsibility for having handed drinks across the bar.
Sober people may also have triggers. One trigger for director of operations Benjamin Clingner, a former beer brewer, is being around inebriated people. To avoid contributing to other people's triggers, The Boocherie won't offer non-alcoholic beer, even though he recently enjoyed a non-alcoholic IPA.
"I couldn't really find anything wrong with it," he told Knox News. "I went to sleep that night and had this horrible dream from the time that I fell asleep to the time that I woke up that I was just hammered. ... I woke up the next day and, as much as I wanted to put it on the menu, there's a brewery right here."
Located next door to Albright Grove Brewing Co., The Boocherie instead will focus on non-alcoholic drinks that shouldn't remind anyone of familiar alcohol flavors.
Frog Juice keeps four flavors of kombucha available all year: pineapple jalapeno, hibiscus apple cherry, peach lavender and blueberry basil. The company also has seasonal flavors, and The Boocherie might have its own special offerings exclusive to the taproom. The bar currently has 14 taps left behind by Trailhead.
Greishaw said the mocktail offerings, provided by The MerTails out of Asheville, will include citrusy, minty and other flavorful options. Knoxville-based Kava Koncoctions will provide relaxing kava without psychoactive effects, she said.
Then there's Green Yams, also based in Knoxville, which will provide mushroom-based drinks.
News of The Boocherie comes shortly after Knox News reported on The Holistic Connection, a legal cannabis bar bound for Gay Street in downtown Knoxville. While this bar, called THC for short, will have a few alcohol options, the focus is on dabs, edibles and mocktails.
'Good things are going to happen here'
Greishaw, Clingner, employees and friends are busy filling the space with laughter as they paint and reimagine the 900-square-foot building.
"Filling this space with that energy was awesome," Clingner said. "Good things are going to happen here. People are going to connect."
Greishaw imagines The Boocherie as an intimate space with nothing to distract guests from "having a moment to yourself or having a moment with friends." She will be the one decorating the space, which could host live music, but the TV will remain off unless it's needed for a community event.
A neighborly focus will be a top priority for The Boocherie, which will provide information about community resources in the bathrooms and will offer some specials to industry workers — not bartenders, but bodyworkers and other unique professionals "that take care of this community," she said.
The Boocherie's retail space will act as a co-op, providing shelf space to people who need somewhere to sell their products. Makers can rent the shelf and keep the profits, while The Boocherie makes sure the space is well-stocked.
Opening soon. Want to go?
The Boocherie should be able to seat 35 people, and the building has some outdoor patio space. Snacks will be available, as well as to-go kombucha.
The current plan is to stay open Tuesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. The business would have the same closing hours Saturday but would open at 10 a.m.
Tentative Sunday hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but The Boocherie will adjust if it turns out people want to stay later or start earlier.
The Boocherie, located at 2920 Sutherland Ave., will hold a soft opening June 2, giving employees time to work out the kinks before the grand opening June 9.