Christopher, left, and Jonathan Ford. The cousins are owners of the new Sweet P’s Downtown Dive on Jackson Avenue.
Last week, after a “friends and family” night on Wednesday, Sweet P’s Barbeque opened its second location — this one downtown at 410 W. Jackson Ave., next door to The Standard.
It is, in my opinion, a perfect barbecue joint. First of all, it’s very comfortable. I don’t know why, but the space just feels welcoming and familiar. Secondly, it’s quirky. Every chair is different. The booths feature reclaimed church pews. And the decor is 1982 World’s Fair. Where else will you find that combination?
But, of course, the most important thing of all is that the food is fantastic and authentic. The meats are prepared in a smoker behind the building. In fact, you can smell the barbecue from blocks away, which is the best advertising ever.
Disclosure: We are helping Sweet P’s with public relations. Not that they need it. The place has a huge following from its original location at 3725 Maryville Pike. And downtown needed a real barbecue place.
The two locations, by design, each have a different vibe. The original, Sweet P’s Barbeque & Soul House, features live music on a routine basis. Located at Willow Point Marina, it is accessible by water. The new location, called Sweet P’s Downtown Dive, has a garage door on its front wall. It will be raised on nice days, opening the restaurant to the sidewalk — and the railroad yard across the street. Uber cool. And, coming soon, one of the largest beer gardens in downtown Knoxville.
One of the owners, Christopher Ford, is the former front man of the popular band Gran Torino. His mother, Dawn, is my best friend. His father, Richard, is my husband’s best friend. So I am not unbiased. But I definitely am telling the truth. This place is wonderful. You must go.
Christopher’s partner in the venture is his cousin, Jonathan Ford, another great (and single – attention, ladies!) guy.
On Thursday, Alan and I stopped by for a late lunch and Chris and Jonathan reported that business on the first day was nice and steady. But on Friday, the crowds were such that Sweet P’s had a waiting list for four of the hours they were open. I told you this place was good.
Here are some photos from the “friends and family” night.
From left, Jonathan Ford; Christopher’s wife, Kari, holding son Townes; Richard Ford; Dawn Ford with her granddaughter Presley; and Christopher Ford.
Jonathan Ford with his mother and stepfather, Debbie and Philip Gold.
Christopher, Townes and Presley with Christopher’s mother-in-law Diana Brandon.
A look inside the dining room.
The garage door. Can’t wait until it’s open.
The menu is on a chalkboard.
Pulled pork sandwich plate.
Pulled chicken sandwich plate.
The Dewhirst family. From left, Tracy, Wilder, Addie and David. David owns the building where Sweet P’s is located.
Christopher chatting with Scott Carpenter and Holly Hambright.
Chef Josh Russell, center, with Ken Gilbert and Lauren Steier.
Red Hickey and MD Kirkpatrick.
Love this sign.
Staff, from left: Evelyn Garner, Luke Ellison and Jon Cameron.
Dayton and Jane Hanford. He and his son made the tables.
Christopher with his friend Carey Bruner.
The Overstreets: Todd, Fanita and little Wren.
“The king and queen of downtown dining,” quipped one wag about this pic of Christopher with Holly Hambright. Holly recently opened Holly’s 135 on the 100 block of Gay Street. (Photo by Natalie Lester)
Some of that World’s Fair decor.
Christopher with Amber and John Pfohl.
From left, Bob Wilkerson, Jamie Crawford, Andrew Crawford and Betty Wilkerson. Jamie is Kari Ford’s sister.
Perry Crawford introduced her doll to Sweet P’s Downtown Dive.
Christopher and Kari’s son, Townes, turned three on the day of the friends and family opening.
Dawn welcomed Cary Zimmerman and Ranee Randby.
One guest brought a beautiful bouquet.
Out back where the beer garden soon will be.
A not-so-subtle catering vehicle. Ha.
Love this sign in the beer garden.
Christopher chatting with his landlord.
From left, Marc and Catharine Kilpatrick, Clarke and Brittany Keown and Whit Pfohl.
Alan Carmichael and Natalie Lester of Moxley Carmichael were staffing the name tag table.
Natalie’s fiance, Chase Bailey, dropped by.
Dawn and Kari Ford sharing a laugh.
Richard Ford enjoying the product.
Peggy Hambright and Alan Carmichael. Her company, Magpies Bakery, makes all the cakes for Moxley Carmichael.
A poster from Gran Torino’s reunion concert at the Bijou Theatre last year.
Kari greets Charlie Peroulas. He owns Pizza Palace on Magnolia Avenue.
Photographer Justin Fee of Photographfee was documenting the occasion. His camera was better than mine!
There are some cool light fixtures.
Ranee loved the banana pudding. Sweet P’s is famous for it.
My pulled chicken plate. I’ve had this meal twice this past week.
The T-shirt sums it up!
Wow: Food looks good going to try as soon as they open Best wishes to all
It was a great night and so well done. We’re proud of those boys!
Fay: You really should get down there!
Dawn: You have every right to be proud. They are working hard and doing a fantastic job. Fun being with you guys that night.
We can’t wait to try it!!!
Thrilled to have barbecue downtown. Love the name. And what a great location — next to the Standard.
Planning a trip back to Knoxville for food and golf next weekend…Sweet P’s made the list!
Bring me all of your banana pudding. All of it!
Sara: You all will love it!
Melinda: It’s a wonderful location. You can smell the barbecue on Gay Street.
Gene: It will make you want to move back!
The food is fabulous.
So excited about this new location! We make the trip to the original location often because we LOVE Sweet P’s!
Thanks for the write up and pictures. Everybody looks great! So wish I could have come into town for the party. We can smell it up here in Baltimore!
Maria: You will have to fight Alan for that banana pudding!
Shaun: This will be so much more convenient for lunch.
Chris: Great hearing from you!
Ralph & I regularly eat at the original location. I can’t wait to head to the downtown location. The BBQ is great which is saying a lot since I am from west Tennessee.
Celeste: Call me if you want to meet there for lunch!
Can’t wait to come check it out! I know the Ford’s personally & I’ve had opportunities to smell some of the goodies cooked up in the Ford kitchen so I know its good stuff! Congrats Christopher & Jonathan on the second location!
Um, first things first. That was not my doll. That was Wren’s doll and I was holding it for her while she was in the bathroom. Not trying to be rude, but it wasn’t mine. It was a great time! Also I am Chris Ford’s niece.
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