What's New in Gatlinburg

City News

Gatlinburg Installs Blink Charging Stations For Electric Vehicles

The City of Gatlinburg is now plugged into the nation’s electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure with the installation of Level II Blink Chargers at the City’s two downtown parking garages.

Gatlinburg is among the first municipalities to install the 240-volt Blink Wall Mount Chargers as a part of The EV Project. The stations are able to fully recharge an electric car battery in four to eight hours.

The EV Project, managed by ECOtality and funded by the Department of Energy through stimulus grants, will eventually provide the network to support the deployment of 8,300 electric vehicles. The goal is to build a nationwide infrastructure of public charging stations for electric vehicles.? “The charging stations provide electric vehicle owners a convenient method to charge their cars and is critical to extending the driving range of EVs to Gatlinburg,” said Cindy Cameron Ogle, City Manager. “We are excited to make these charging stations available to our residents as well as our visitors.”

The charging stations, each with two wall-mounted units, are located on the lowest level of the City’s Aquarium (125 Greystone Heights Rd.) and Fred McMahan (520 Parkway) parking garages.

“The EV Project installations in Gatlinburg support our micro-climate goals and align with the overall focus Tennessee places on sustainable tourism,” said Stephanie Cox, Tennessee area manager for ECOtality.

ECOtality targeted Gatlinburg as a preferred site for charging stations because the Smoky Mountains are popular with travelers. The new stations give electric car drivers the option of charging their vehicles on the eastern fringe of the “The Tennessee Triangle,” a 425-mile stretch of interstate highway connecting Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga."

Tennessee is one of the pilot launch markets for The EV Project and has the largest geographic footprint of any EV Project area," said Jonathan Read, CEO of ECOtality. "We are on track to electrify more than 500 miles of EV freeway throughout Tennessee."

The EV Project is funded by a $114.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The EV Project includes 16 states and major metropolitan areas, and calls for the installation of over 14,000 charging stations, over the course of three years.

Community News

Historic Gatlinburg Inn will reopen May 1 under new management, but in ownership of the same families

The Gatlinburg Inn, a longtime landmark in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains’ trademark town, will remain open under ownership of members of the two families who built and preserved it for more than 75 years.

The future of the classic hotel in the center of Gatlinburg’s shopping and entertainment district had been in doubt since the December 2011 death of Wilma Cook Miller Maples, the widow of Rel Maples, who built the Inn on his family’s homestead in 1937.

The estates have sold the hotel and surrounding property to Gatlinburg Inn Partners LLC, owned by separate companies formed by the grandchildren of Rel Maples and members of the Miller family, most of whom live in East Tennessee.

We had never met each other, so it took a while to sort things out, but in the end we saw that the only way we could be sure of preserving our shared legacy was to take on the responsibility and keep the Inn open,” the new owners said in a joint statement. “Any other course could have meant the end of The Gatlinburg Inn, at least the Inn that we and millions of people have known for decades.

The Inn has hosted countless celebrities, entertainers, artists, governors, senators, former presidents and first ladies, and in recent years has been a quiet haven of country charm in the town that borders the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the nation’s most popular.

The hotel was featured in the 1967 Ingrid Bergman movie, “A Walk in the Spring Rain,” and was the place where internationally honored songwriters Boudleaux and Felice Bryant wrote “Rocky Top,” which quickly became the theme song of the University of Tennessee. Many other prominent figures in the music and entertainment world have been guests at the Inn.

The Inn will be managed by Hospitality Solutions of Sevierville, Tenn., which operates hotels in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. The firm’s president, Logan Coykendall, is a Sevier County civic leader who has eagerly taken on the task of enhancing the Inn while preserving the character that makes it a Smokies landmark.

I believe in The Gatlinburg Inn,” Coykendall told the new owners when first approached about taking over management. “I’ve been in the business community Gatlinburg for most of my life and understand that the inheritors of the Gatlinburg Inn could have taken the easy way out but have taken a courageous step and opted to preserve the Inn for our community. Our management team is very honored excited about being involved in the preservation and enhancement of such a unique and historic property.”

The new owners had already made some changes, such as keeping the Inn open through December, which drew much interest and proved successful. Following some repairs and upgrades that are now in progress, the hotel will reopen on May 1. It will remain open year-round, as a constant testimony to the fundamental character of the Great Smoky Mountains and their people.

The Gatlinburg Inn

-Built in 1937 by Rel Maples Sr. and Ruby Bailey Maples, on Maples family homestead
-70 rooms, many with antique regional furniture
-Original home of Gatlinburg’s first bank, newspaper and Chamber of Commerce office
-Underwent major renovation in 1962
-State song “Rocky Top” written in Room 388
-Operated by Wilma Maples from Rel Maples’ death in 1985 until her death in late 2011 
-Next to the Sky Lift on the Parkway in downtown Gatlinburg

This family has been a part of Gatlinburg from its beginning. Active in overseeing new management of the Inn are Billy Maples, owner of Gatlinburg Package Store, and Jack Maples, owner of Maples Ridge Cabin Rentals in Pigeon Forge.

Wilma Maples was Wilma Cook Miller, one of 11 children raised along Clinch River in Union County, Tenn. She left her half of the Inn to her surviving sister, Naomi Miller Barker of Dunlap, Tenn., and nieces and nephews. Active in overseeing management of the Inn are Allen Barker of Dunlap and David M. Cross, an attorney in Albany, Ky.

Gatlinburg Inn Properties LLC, made up of the two families, has contracted with Hospitality Solutions Inc. to operate the Inn.  Logan Coykendall is the President of Hospitality Solutions and its management division, Hospitality Management Solutions, which manages several hotels in Sevier County.  The properties have garnered several awards and recognitions for development, management and sustainability from several sources, including national recognitions from Hilton Worldwide and the American Hotel and Lodging Association.  The development team brought Tennessee its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn Gatlinburg. Coykendall serves on the Hampton Brand Operations Council.  For more information, see www.hospitalitysolutions.net.

Christ in the Smokies
Temple Treasures of the Ark of The Covenant Debuts

Guests are invited to experience the inspiring new exhibition Temple Treasures of the Ark of The Covenant this spring at Christ in the Smokies Museum & Gardens, Gatlinburg’s premiere family attraction.

The new exhibit includes a virtual tour narrated by the high priest and then brings you to Christ in the New Testament. All the Elements of the Tabernacle are a type of foreshadowing of the titles of Christ himself: the bronze sea (Christ the Living Water); the incense altar (Christ Our Intercessor); the menorah candlestick (Christ the Light of the World), etc. Descriptions are presented with each individual replica of the exhibit and are also available in a study guide.

Art Director Mark Pedro has been creating this evolving exhibit for some time. “I spent the winter months building reconstructions of the furniture and vestments used in both the Tabernacle and Jewish Temples where God dwelt with his people,” said Pedro. “A friend brought me a replica of Aaron’s breastplate from Israel and I thought I’d add a new figure to our Old Testament theatre. Before you know it, I’m making replicas of all the pieces.

“They are called ‘Temple Treasures’ because many empires and nations destroyed the temple and made off with the original golden treasures – the last being the Romans in 70 A.D.

“Of course, the most recognized artifact would be the Ark of the Covenant,” continued Pedro. “I’m in the process of carving the cherubim that sits atop the Ark. Every part of the display is authentic to the Holy Bible in every detail as described in the books of Exodus & Leviticus. As in the design of the Ark, we are influenced a lot by the movies. “

This new exhibit further enhances the visitor experience of this world class museum of the Bible – Christ in the Smokies – which uses over 100 life-sized figures to tell of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It includes the Smokies’ most photographed object – the amazing Face of Christ sculpture, which appears to follow the viewers every move. There are also collections of ancient coins and gems as well as epic movie posters & Biblical artifacts for visitors to enjoy. “Our aim is to bring the Bible to life for our visitors,” said Pedro. 

Christ in the Smokies Museum & Gardens is open 7 days a week from 9 to 5 with extended hours in the summer and fall. Groups and individuals are asked to call 865-436-5155 for specific dates, times and admission prices or visit our website at www.christinthesmokes.com.

Another LEED certified property for Gatlinburg

Nantahala Outdoor Center Gatlinburg, has been certified LEED Silver by the U.S. Green Building Council, the leading and most comprehensive third-party designation for green building. NOC Gatlinburg, located adjacent to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is the first LEED retail and family attraction of its kind in the entire two-state Smokies gateway region.

NOC opened its retail and adventure center in the spring of 2010, in Gatlinburg, one of the most heavily visited destinations in the Southeast. A $4 million project, NOC Gatlinburg is a groundbreaking initiative, working with the City of Gatlinburg to create a closer connection to the National Park while deepening environmentally responsible practices throughout the city.

"NOC's mission of "excellence in outdoor adventures" is only possible if we not only promote recreation in the outdoors, but preserve and protect the outdoors as well," says Bacon. "By committing ourselves to a green culture, including LEED building measures, we strive to promote environmental responsibility so we can continue to share the joys and benefits of outdoor recreation with many future generations."
For more information on NOC visit www.noc.com. For more information on LEED and the U.S. Green Building Council, visit www.usgbc.org.

Get Plugged in at Johnson Family of Restaurants Locations

Alamo, Bennett's, Mama's and Big Daddy's are first businesses in Sevier County to get EV stations! Wondering what those space age boxes are that have been mounted in front of The Alamo Steakhouse, Bennett's Pit Bar-B-Que, Mama's Farmhouse and Big Daddy's Pizzeria? Answer: electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. The Johnson Family of Restaurants is proud and excited to announce its seven locations are the first businesses in the county (and some of the first businesses in East TN) to receive electric vehicle charging stations through the EV Project. The stations will enable customers with electric vehicles to top off the charge on their vehicles while dining at one of the locations, whereas the majority of the charging will be done at one's residence. Some participants of the EV Program will charge users for the cost of electricity, but the Johnson Family of Restaurants is offering the service free to its customers.

The Johnson Family of Restaurants believes in electric and hybrid-electric vehicles, their potential ability to improve air quality in the Great Smoky Mountains (and beyond) and reduce our nation's dependence on foreign sources of energy. We are proud of our customers who choose alternative vehicles and we are happy to help them out. In a nutshell, we are thrilled to be part of this great project!

Wondering where to get a bite and charge up? Locations are as follows:

-Bennett's Pit Bar-B-Que 714 River Road Gatlinburg (865) 436-2400 - Gatlinburg Chamber Member
-Bennett's Pit-Bar-B-Que 2910 Parkway, Pigeon Forge
-Alamo Steakhouse 705 East Parkway, Gatlinburg (865) 436-9998 - Gatlinburg Chamber Member
-Alamo Steakhouse 3050 Parkway, Pigeon Forge
-Mama's Farmhouse 208 Pickel Street, Pigeon Forge
-Big Daddy's Pizzeria 1820 Parkway, Sevierville, TN
-Big Daddy's Pizzeria 3053 Parkway, Pigeon Forge

Please feel free to contact Jonathan Wimmer at jww@jfor.biz or (865) 429-0082 with questions.

New Businesses

Gatlinburg Barrelhouse opens on the Parkway

Distillery located in heart of Gatlinburg that offers a variety of whiskey and vodka made on site. Featuring Davy Crockett's Tennessee Whiskey, Fire Tower Cinnamon, Chokin Chicken Vodka and Cooter Brown Blended Whiskey. Doing free tastings from 10am -11pm. 
650 Parkway Gatlinburg (865) 325-1111 http://www.gatlinburgbarrelhouse.com

Greystone Grill

Country cooking at its best. Breakfast all day, lunch, dinner and something for the kids. Everything made fresh in house. We have parking. 349 East Parkway (865) 430-4499

Hoggs Pub and Grub

Upscale pub with country atmosphere, liquor by the drink, 23 beers on tap, good food and desserts. Pool table, live music and parking.  170 Glades Road (865) 325-1551

Crystelle Creek Restaurant brings great food and atmosphere to Gatlinburg

Beautiful ambiance with raining roof water, flowing creeks and an 80 foot raining light tree. Fabulous food satisfying all: fresh trout, streaks, chicken and Italian. Large parties and free parking. They offer full service, fine dining and catering.  Located by the creek on Highway 321 just outside of Gatlinburg.  They have 2 separate dining areas, 2 separate bar areas, as well as a large covered porch with TV's for watching sporting events. Our covered porch is dog friendly, so bring your favorite pooch with you.  Dogs are allowed only on the porch and must have collars and leashes. A separate porch entrance is available for owner and pooches.  1654 East Parkway (865) 430-1551  http://www.crystellecreek.com

Bill Gladwell "The Mentalist" show comes to town

Combining hypnosis, NLP, psychology, and directed awareness with 23 years of focused attention on the study and application of advanced mind control techniques, Bill creates a family friendly performance you will never forget. For over twenty-three years, Bill has stunned audiences with his stage performances, helped thousands to improve and enhance their mental abilities, and has had the privilege of changing the lives of countless others through his one-on-one coaching.Bill has authored two books and has been featured in many others. His first book sells world-wide, and his second book is a best-seller in the fields of influence and Social Dynamics.Bill has made several appearances on television and film, and two future films are currently in negotiations. 115 Historic Nature Trail (865) 325-9190 http://billgladwell.com 

Loco Burro Fresh Mex Cantina opens in Gatlinburg

Loco Burro Fresh Mex Cantina, located at 735 Parkway, features an open air casual dining atmosphere and as Gatlinburg's only rooftop patio restaurant makes an excellent location for viewing downtown activities. Loco Burro can also host private parties. For information on their hours of operation please call (865) 430-5624. http://www.locoburro.com

Johnny Rockets now open in the Burg!

Johnny Rockets just opened its newest restaurant at The Shops at Gatlinburg Town Center in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Situated on the outskirts of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the only free national park in the country, the 25-year old Johnny Rockets brand is introducing its new design, updated music program and classic American cuisine to our quaint resort town. Johnny Rockets serves signature menu favorites including Hamburgers, American Fries and Shakes, in a fun and upbeat environment. www.johnnyrockets.com

Appalachian Ghostwalks

The Haunted Historic Gatlinburg GhostWalk unveiled the findings of skilled researchers during professional ghost hunter investigations on site and in many of the buildings along the route chosen for this tour of Tennessee's most popular tourist destination - rich with Cherokee Indian and early settlement history! http://www.appalachianghostwalks.com/haunted-historic-tennessee-ghost-tours/gatlinburg-tn-ghost-walk-tour.html

Sugarland Cellars

Within our walls, visitors enjoy bits of Gatlinburg's rich and abundant history along with a carefully chosen selection of fine wines made on site. The original settlers of this area and the wonderful oral traditions they passed down are much harder to come by these days. At Sugarland Cellars, we strive to re-ignite some of these often forgotten stories and tales through our passion for winemaking and the opportunity it presents us to showcase some of the wonderful people and places of our area. While you're here, or the next time you decide to drop by, take a moment to sip back a spell and drink in the stories contained within these walls. Located at 1133 Parkway, (865) 325-1110. http://www.sugarlandcellars.com

Cabin Cafe in the Arts & Crafts Community!

A local cafe serving mainly sandwiches, salads, soups, and pizza- all homemade at the cabin. Now serving breakfast! Come check out the 8-mile Glade Road Loop to see more than 120 artisans at work in the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community- the largest concentration of independent artisans in the United States. This adorable shop is a great place to grab a bite to eat! Visit them at 600 Glades Road Suite 10 in the Glades Arts & Crafts Center complex. Local number (865) 325-1000. http://visitthecabin.com

Bootleggers Homemade Wine

Bootleggers Homemade Wine is owned by two country winemakers. To create the finest homegrown Appalachian wines, we start from scratch using the best local fruit and the same small-batch recipes folks in these parts perfected long ago. Bootleggers Homemade Wine uses no machines or fancy equipment just the stuff you'd find in kitchens throughout the South. We even bottle each batch by hand. It ain't California or France just great homemade wine, and when you pop open a bottle you'll surely know it cam from the mountains. Located in Moonshines Holler next to Ole Smoky Distillery at 903 Parkway in the middle of downtown. Local number (865) 603-4611. Free tastings of great local wine. http://www.bootleggerswine.com

The Melting Pot

Offers a truly unique dining experience created by the art of fondue. Whether you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary, a long overdue date night, or celebrating with a group, The Melting Pot Restaurant is perfect for any occasion. Tailor your visit with a four-course dining experience including cheese fondue, salad, entree and dessert. Or, come by for fondue cheese paired with that perfect glass of wine from our extensive selection. That's not to say, we haven't had more than a few stop by to satisfy that chocolate craving after a long day of shopping, attractions and sightseeing. Make reservations today, and see what people are talking about at (865) 430-4430. Located at 959 Parkway. http://www.meltingpot.com/gatlinburg/welcome

Ole Smoky Distillery

A visit to Ole Smoky Distillery is the true moonshine experience. As you approach the entrance, you can detect the distinct smell of our grains cooking and fermenting. You'll see authentic working moonshine stills and experience the process from beginning to end. Our distillers will take the time to visit with you and answer any questions about the history and lore of moonshining in East Tennessee. After you see, smell and hear about the process, we offer you a taste of our shine for free. Samples of our Original Unaged Corn Whiskey, White Lightnin' and Moonshine Cherries, plus we offer seasonal and special flavors that aren't available in package stores. http://www.olesmokymoonshine.com

Old Dad's General Store

Last stop before the National Park at Light #10! Come in for Homemade Cupcakes & Dessert, Homemade Muffins & Pastries, hand dipped ice cream & milkshakes, pizza & wings. They also have Fishing Supplies, Hiking Supplies, lottery tickets, Crafts & Collectibles, Cold Beer, Firewood, Camping Supplies, Fresh Produce Section, Frozen Food Section, Fresh Brewed Coffee, Styrofoam Coolers, Flip Flops, Walking Sticks, Sunglasses, Lunchmeat / Cheeses By The Pound, Free Convenient Parking For Market, Ice, Cigarettes And Much MORE! (Previously the Mountain Market & Grill). Located at 1127 Parkway. Local number (865) 430-1644.