KNOXVILLE, TN–Graduate Hotels is excited to announce that Graduate Knoxville has officially opened its doors today, Thursday, August 13, 2020. The 112-key hotel is prominently located along The Strip directly on Cumberland Avenue, blocks from the University of Tennessee campus and nearby Neyland Stadium. Graduate Knoxville features two unique food and beverage offerings, including Saloon 16, opening in partnership with NFL legend and UT alum, Peyton Manning, and Poindexter, Graduate Hotels’ signature all-day cafe concept.
Created for travelers who seek memory-making journeys, Graduate Hotels is a thoughtfully crafted collection of hotels that reside in dynamic university-anchored cities across the country. Each property celebrates and commemorates the optimistic energy of its community, while offering an extended retreat to places that often play host to the best days of our lives.
“We’re thrilled to open our doors and welcome Knoxville locals, Vols fans and the University of Tennessee community,” said Ben Weprin, Graduate Hotels CEO and Founder. “Graduate Knoxville has been a labor of love for our team, and we’re honored to have had the opportunity to create a hotel that celebrates this incredibly dynamic and proud community. As a UT alum, I know how special this town is, and we look forward to serving as a memorable gathering place for years to come.”
Design throughout the hotel boasts Rocky Top lore, with a palette of Tennessee Orange, complemented with blue and white accents, and rustic, vintage touches that celebrate the city of Knoxville. A front desk reimagined as a Vol Navy-inspired tailgate boat fit for the Tennessee River welcomes guests upon arrival, while an opposing gallery wall features custom cartoon drawings by two-time Pulitzer finalist and UT grad, Marshall Ramsey. The warmth of the lobby is carried into guest rooms complete with light blue headboards, cartoon gallery walls from Ramsey and collegiate-inspired curtains and cozy bed throws. University of Tennessee’s beloved mascot Smokey is a prominent fixture, featured on bedside lamps and throughout custom bathroom wallpaper.
Graduate Hotels is partnering with University of Tennessee football legend Peyton “The Sheriff” Manning, on the Western-inspired, high-end watering hole, Saloon 16. Boasting a refined, yet old-school energy, Saloon 16 has been handcrafted by Manning to uniquely tell the narrative of his University of Tennessee experience. From coveted, unseen memorabilia from Manning’s personal collection to more subtle nods to the people, places and experiences that had the most impact on his college years, Saloon 16 will be a memorable destination for Vols and Manning fans. Design builds upon the space’s welcoming, western spirit with rich wooden textures and leather fabrics, complemented by Tennessee Orange hues and nostalgic bar decor such as dart boards, a jukebox with custom selections and a vintage, stand up self-playing piano. The mahogany top bar dates back to the 1800s, including a beer mug sliding track, establishing a distinct sense of place for imbibers. Along the bar, brass plated “Sheriff Stars” are attributed to select former UT players considered to be Manning’s personal “all-star” team.
“It’s exciting to team up with Graduate Hotels on their Knoxville location, bringing Saloon 16 to the heart of the University of Tennessee community,” Peyton Manning said. “I love Knoxville, and when I am there, this is where I’ll be hanging out. With a lot of memorabilia and menu items inspired by my playing days for the Vols, Saloon 16 at Graduate Hotels is the perfect place to relax and have fun.”
The menu features elevated bar food, with each individual item paying tribute to the special people including teammates, coaches, professors and many more during Manning’s time at UT. Familiar flavors are given a fresh take with menu items such as Peyton’s Chicken Parm “You Taste So Good” Sandwich, Ray and Lucy’s Beer Dip and Go Go’s Sloppy Joe, while late-night inspired items such as Cheese Bings and Rooster Sliders hint to classic Knoxville eats. The beverage menu offers specialty cocktails such as Pat Summitt’s Royal Sprite and Hoorays Punch, as well as exclusively Budweiser, Bud Light, and Michelob Ultra on draft.
In celebration of the opening, Graduate Knoxville worked with iconic sports poster creator, John Costacos of the Costacos Brothers to capture “The Sheriff” in his Western glory. The hotel will sell a limited number of these special edition posters featuring Peyton Manning, available at the front desk for $16 each, witth all proceeds going towards the Pat Summitt Foundation.
Poindexter is Graduate Hotels’ signature all-day café concept and upon opening later this year, will be positioned on the hotel’s ground level.