Perk City: Java and pastries at Magnolia’s new coffeehouse

Nick Della VolpeNortheast Knox, On the Grow

Sherene Jacobs of Park City is Magnolia’s newest business pioneer. Her Perk City coffeehouse is quickly becoming a gathering place for East Knoxvillians heading to work or play, or stopping for home-baked pastries and a cup of coffee, tea, expresso or cappuccino. There is plenty of room to sit and chat with friends while sipping your made-to-order brew.

Situated near Chilhowee Park, at the corner of Magnolia Avenue and North Beaman Street, the revitalized building, which once housed Ray’s barbeque (“O U Pig”) from the ’40s and later the honky-tonk Tennessee Tavern, is now an engaging neighborhood go-to spot. Parking is mostly in the rear of the building. There a few spaces up front, but part of that space is dedicated to rock garden style water drainage basins required by the city hydrologists.

Sherene bakes everything sold there from scratch. And I mean yummy stuff like her: incredibites (a cinnamon-glazed monkey bread type pastry), mandelbrodt dunker infused with white chocolate, raspberry and macadamia nuts, and two types of “ bread pudding” one with white chocolate and cranberries, the other with dark chocolate and cherries, along with pineapple upside down cakes and whatever else meets her eclectic baker’s fancy.

After Jan. 6, Sherene plans to add some lunch items like chicken, tuna and egg salad sandwiches on homemade yeast rolls. Her philosophy on that is simple and direct— I’ll only serve food I’ve made myself to ensure that my customers get wholesome ingredients. Chai latte anyone?

Perk City has been some two years in the making. Sherene’s dream began in Spring 2018, but quickly ran into difficult demands by city engineers on rehabbing the old cinder block structure, adding required grease traps, and addressing the sloped, paved site’s runoff drainage.

She finally opened in October 2019 and has been slowly adapting to customer preferences and needs. Much of the interior finishing and decorating was done by the energized, handywoman owner. The interior is currently decked out for Christmas.

Stop by soon. You’ll be welcomed into the extended Perk City family.

Nick Della Volpe is a lawyer and a former member of Knoxville City Council.

Perk City building before renovation

Perk City building now.


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