Steamboat on Central to reopen

Betty BeanFeature, Inside 640

Years before North Central became a thing, the Steamboat was selling sandwiches on homemade bread, fresh-squeezed lemonade, house-made cookies and brownies and a welcoming atmosphere. Fancy lawyers, guys with their names on their shirts, doctors and nurses from nearby St. Mary’s, neighbors and politicos came for lunch and conversation.

It was Cheers without the liquor.


The Steamboat was a family affair. Proprietors Donnie and Donna Anderson and daughters Rita Anderson and Maggie Cole made everyone who walked through the door feel at home from the day they opened in 1989 until 2007, when they moved to Market Square.

At 10 a.m. Monday, April 9, the Steamboat (which closed in 2014) will be back in business.

Same location, same classic menu, same wall of historic Knoxville photographs from Donnie Anderson’s collection – but with major updates.

It’s now the Steamboat on Central, which is what a lot of people always called it anyway.

And there are new proprietors: Meredith Cole, Matt Turner and Trevor Guydon were longtime friends and colleagues at the Tomato Head on Market Square. They dreamed of going into business together, and now they’ve entered into a franchise agreement with the Andersons, who have taught them the secret recipes and trained them in Steamboat methods.

The new façade: Steamboat on Central

And the building has a new owner – architect John Sanders, who made the whole thing possible when he bought the place and lovingly restored it.

The dream became a plan when the partners attended a PechaKucha 20X20 presentation and talked to Sanders, who told them he had a space and some sandwich making equipment.

“He said he really liked Steamboat and is excited about Oakwood Lincoln Park (Steamboat on Central’s neighborhood),” Meredith Cole said.

So, after years of dreaming, planning and hoping and months of working and preparing, Steamboat on Central will open its updated doors.

Meredith, Matt and Trevor will be glad to see you. Just don’t ask them for the bread recipe.

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