Creative Venture: Knox Bodegas opens in South Knoxville

Susan EspirituSouth Knox

Many things are intrinsically associated with New York City like yellow taxis, hot dogs and pretzels. Bodegas and chopped cheese sandwiches are two others and these two have now arrived in South Knoxville at Knox Bodegas, located at 6502 Chapman Highway.

The concept of the bodega as a small neighborhood store can be traced back to Latin American countries, particularly in places like Mexico and Puerto Rico since the term is a Spanish word for storeroom.

Over time, the term and the concept of bodegas made its way to the United States, particularly in urban areas, especially in New York City.

Bodegas are small neighborhood convenience stores known for their wide variety of products, including groceries, snacks, beverages, household items and sometimes even prepared foods.

Knox Bodegas was started by a group of close friends who have 20 plus years of combined experience in the service industry. They started by opening a food truck in September 2022 with the concept of a mobile convenience store that also sold hot food. They specialize in chopped cheese sandwiches, the New York City version of a Philly cheese steak.

The group realized the true vision of the storefront bodega when they found a store front in South Knoxville. Currently, they only sell food out of that location, but plan to soon complete the bodega concept with convenience store items.

The entrepreneur group also owns farm land in Sweetwater, Tennessee, and plans on growing many of the produce items they will sell in the store that is currently open Monday- Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

This innovative team is comprised of several heavy hitters with Coy Leach leading the way.

Coy Leach is the store manager and cook at the new location. Coy graduated from UTK with a degree in logistics and spent several years working for Pilot Flying J before deciding to embark on this business venture.

Cade Leach has a marketing degree and is managing sales and marketing for the company while continuing to work full time as project manager for Allen Signs.

Alyssa Branson is a certified bookkeeper so she is handling the accounting and graphic design for Knox Bodegas while she continues to work as a bartender at Fin Two in Knoxville’s Old City.

Jared Martin is the official chef of Knox Bodegas while currently employed as the executive chef of Fire and Smoke. Coy Leach says Martin’s recipes are always packed with flavor and prepared fresh every week.

Mason Crockett manages the third-party apps such as Door Dash and Uber Eats for Knox Bodegas. He is also their point of contact for local makers who wish to sell their products in the store. Mason has spent most of his career in management at Archers BBQ, and currently serves as the district manager for Archers BBQ. He also started his own business making soap out of recycled food products.

Hannah Strange is Mason’s life partner. She also assists Coy with day-to-day tasks in the store. She makes hand-squeezed lemonade each week for the guests. Coy credits, “Hannah’s bright young mind and her huge help in opening the store front.”

Coy Leach says, “As for our team, we are a group of ambitious people that want to make a difference in our community. We want to give our neighbors a clean place to get some food and charge them fair prices.”

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