• Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Share via Email
Cumberland Avenue Merchants Loving the Return of UT's Homecoming Parade to The Strip 

UT's Homecoming Parade returning to Cumberland Avenue after a 30-year hiatus.

Everybody loves a parade - and that includes Joe Burger, owner of the Cumberland Avenue McDonald's.

Burger and his staff will be working the crowd at Friday's 4 p.m. University of Tennessee Homecoming Parade, which will roll down Cumberland Avenue for the first time in 30 years. The McDonald's team will be offering deals, giveaways and donating prizes to the creators of the best floats.

"It's one more opportunity for us to showcase the investment that has happened not only on Cumberland but at the University, and it will hopefully encourage community members to come out and watch - and come back," Burger said.

"I’m also excited for our employees. I have folks who love coming to work on game days because it’s busy and exciting. This will be another one of those times where it will be busy, with something cool going on. We plan on being engaged with customers during the parade."

Other Cumberland Avenue merchants are likewise eager to roll out the welcome mat for UT alumni on Friday.

CAMA members are enthusiastic about Friday's Homecoming Parade.

Cody Cothron, manager of the Sunspot restaurant, says his eatery's rooftop patio will be open all day, and it will offer a great vantage point to get a bird's eye view of the parade. The Sunspot will offer a Homecoming Happy Hour.

"Every year, we look forward to UT alumni coming through our doors," Cothron said. "This year, we are even more excited to have the Homecoming parade right outside our front door for the first time in 30 years! We look forward to the many familiar faces as we celebrate 101 years." 

The theme for this year’s UT Homecoming festivities is “HC 101: Intro to Rocky Top.”

The 4-5 p.m. Friday parade – and 5-6 p.m. post-parade celebration, when the street will remain closed to vehicles and the floats will be parked on display – is a great opportunity to show off the new Cumberland Avenue, Burger and Cothron say.

The City's two-year top-to-bottom reconstruction of Cumberland Avenue was finished in August – on time and within budget. Cumberland between 17th and 22nd streets has been recreated into a safer, more pedestrian-friendly corridor with new utility infrastructure, wider sidewalks, improved traffic flow, a raised median and left-turn lanes at intersections. The public investment of $25 million has helped leverage more than $190 million in private investment.

Burger, who has owned the McDonald’s location on Cumberland for just over 10 years, said his business was on the very front end of the wave of private sector investment along the corridor.

"We practically rebuilt our restaurant in 2011, using the City’s proposed Form-based Code at that time, demonstrating our belief in the vision for that area," he said. "Just as every other business, we were concerned about the road project, especially given our drive-through business … but we’ve been pleasantly surprised in the rebound we have seen in traffic - not only the amount, but in the speed with which it has returned for us.

"We have seen in other locations that a major road project like that could take several months to a year to see a rebound in traffic and sales, but it’s happened much faster on Cumberland."

Burger said his franchise is looking at ways to further increase business through innovation.

"Over the summer, before the road opened, we installed self-order kiosks to offer a different experience for our dine-in customers, and now we offer table service in our dining room," he said. "Today, we are launching Mobile Order and Pay and partnering with Uber Eats to offer delivery."

Teri Branam, secretary of the Cumberland Avenue Merchants Association, said there's an upbeat entrepreneurial vibe up and down Cumberland. With the addition of new retail, residential, dining and entertainment venues, there's strong momentum throughout the district.

"The merchants are excited to see the parade come down Cumberland Avenue and looking forward to folks visiting their businesses before, during and after the parade," she said. "If you haven't seen the new Cumberland Avenue yet, come on down this Friday for the Homecoming parade."


Posted by evreeland On 31 October, 2017 at 4:44 PM