Johnson City has undergone major changes to its downtown aimed at revitalizing the area. Before the revitalization process began, activities and restaurants in downtown were sparse. Today, Downtown Johnson City offers a myriad of eateries and activities for students to enjoy.

The historic CC&O Railroad Depot was one of the earliest renovations in 2014 to the downtown area. Along with the renovations came Asheville-based Tupelo Honey Café in June 2014. The Johnson City location has stayed true to the area by hosting historical décor of Johnson City. Tupelo Honey Café also hosts a variety of events on its patio, like the Summer Music Series.

The revitalization also brought Founders Park to downtown. Featuring an amphitheater on the east side and a large lawn on the west, Founders Park is always bustling. Every Friday night until the end of September, Founders Park will host Founders After 5. This event is a free concert series hosted in the park’s amphitheater. The last two concerts of the season will feature “The Funky Truth” on Sept. 21 and “The Howlin’ Brothers” on Sept 28.

Since 2016, The Pavilion at Founders Park has hosted the Johnson City Farmer’s Market. The market runs from mid-April through October and offers a variety of fresh produce and local products on Wednesday and Saturday from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Another addition to downtown is Silverball City Retro Arcade. The arcade has over 55 pinball machines and arcade cabinets. Admission to the arcade is only $10 for adults and grants access to the arcade for the entire day. You can even leave and return on the same day for no charge –– no quarters needed.

“I love the Silverball,” said ETSU alum Ethan Street. “You mean I can eat, drink and play retro arcade games for an entire Saturday for less than $20? What’s not to love?” 

Despite the variety of new choices in downtown, older businesses are still a favorite for ETSU students.

“I love Mid City Grill,” said Adam Birchfield. “It was one of the first reasons I visited downtown. It was also where I went on my first date with my fiancé. If you haven’t had their bacon cheese fries and a slice of cheesecake, then you haven’t lived.”


Contributed by Jeff Shell