KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Knoxville has a new watering hole honoring the VFL known as "The Sheriff" that aims to please every Tennessee fan.
Saloon 16 is now open inside the Graduate Knoxville hotel on the Strip, and it features memorabilia highlighting the career of Peyton Manning, the UT quarterback great and College Football Hall of Famer who has never forgotten where he went to school.
Before you even walk in, the giant UT mural can be seen from a mile away. But the moment you step inside, you know you're in the heart of Vol Nation.
"You're like 'woah, what is this?'" said general manager Kirk Figgins.
"You see the floor, the chevron orange and white floor. You look to the left, the front desk is the shape of a boat inspired by the Vol Navy. Every design element nods to the spirit of UT and Knoxville," he said. "When you step in you're just taken back to those good years and remember all the fun you had."
Walking in is an experience in itself.
All Vol: Inside the Graduate Knoxville hotel and Saloon 16
The bar is a tribute both to Manning's nickname and his jersey number -- 16. The New Orleans native, who helmed the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos during his NFL career, partnered with the hotel in creating the bar, paying close attention to the finest details.
"He's the greatest quarterback of all time and we've got his bar here in Graduate Knoxville. You step in there and see really cool pieces from his life, career," said Figgins. "We've got students coming in the back door and guests coming in the front door."
The mural in Saloon 16 is one of FIggins' favorite pieces. "It's an adaptation of two 1800's western paintings that the artist subbed UT and Alabama football players for the cowboys in the painting."
Manning, according to the hotel, wanted to create a special space for UT fans.
The menu itself will make patrons nostalgic, featuring drinks such as the "Three Meeks Mule," "Pat Summitt's Royal Sprite" and "Gus's Good Times."
Hungry? There's "Condredge's Cobb Salad" and "Helton's Chili and Frito Pie" among other items.
it's a worthwhile trip to see it all, every detail makes you feel at home and reminds you the volunteer spirit is still alive and well
The hotel at 1706 Cumberland Ave., the former Volunteer Hotel and a former Hilton Garden Inn at 1706 Cumberland Ave., is all-Vol, featuring an orange motif and reminders from top to bottom that guests are in Big Orange Country. Rich, personal identities are part of the chain's brand.
Plans for the new hotel were announced in May 2019. Other Graduate properties include Graduate Nashville, a Midtown location that celebrates Vanderbilt University as well as the Music City's rich cultural heritage.
When you go down to visit the hotel, be sure to check out the huge mural on the side of the hotel. You'll see some familiar faces, including No. 16 himself.
Adventurous Journeys (AJ) Capital Partners spearheaded the project and says it has more than 30 properties in various stages of development.
The hotel also right now is selling a commemorative poster of Peyton Manning to celebrate Saloon 16's opening. A limited number are available at the hotel itself, with all proceeds being donated to the Pat Summitt Foundation, according to Graduate Hotels.