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Babalu Tacos & Tapas to open in downtown Knoxville, provide 150 local jobs

October 2, 2015

Oct. 2, 2015

For more information:
Lauren Miller
Moxley Carmichael


Babalu Tacos & Tapas is bringing its authentic, gourmet tacos and small plates to downtown Knoxville – along with 150 job opportunities.

Founded in Jackson, Mississippi, Babalu Tacos & Tapas also operates in Birmingham, Alabama, and Memphis, Tennessee. The Knoxville restaurant will be located in the former JC Penney building at 412 S. Gay St. and is slated to open in late fall 2015.

Mississippi-native JT Dewitt has been named Knoxville general manager, and Indianapolis-native and longtime Birmingham chef Warren Weiss has been named executive chef. The restaurant is hiring at least 150 employees and currently has more than 100 positions available to fill.

To help fill these 100-plus positions, Babalu will host a hiring event on Thursday, Oct. 8, from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. at its hiring office, located at 618 S. Gay St. in Suite 225 of the Arcade Building.

Attendees at the hiring event will have the opportunity to meet Knoxville managers Dewitt and Weiss, learn more about the restaurant’s unique culture, as well as career opportunities, and apply on-site.

“We’re hiring for all hourly positions, and we encourage anyone interested to apply now,” Dewitt said. “We’re looking for enthusiastic, hardworking candidates who are ready to take on new roles and learn new responsibilities, whether it be as part of the culinary or hospitality teams.”

Weiss agreed that attitude is a key determining factor for job applicants.

“Fit is more important than function,” Weiss said. “If you’re willing to learn, we’re ready to help you grow. Experience is great, but we’re also looking for the personality and passion that will deliver exceptional food, drinks and service to Knoxville diners.”

Interested job seekers can apply online at or in person at the Babalu Tacos & Tapas hiring office at 618 S. Gay St., Suite 225. The office is open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Available positions include administrative assistants, hosts/hostesses, servers, server assistants, line cooks, tortilla/prep cooks and dishwashers.

The unique menu at Babalu Tacos & Tapas features gourmet tacos and small plates, such as Scottish salmon and a mouthwatering Baba Burger, served tapas-style and brought to your table as they are prepared. Weiss works with local partners and farmers to prepare the menu with the freshest ingredients and integrate his local twist with the Babalu menu. The restaurant also offers a full-service bar, including the Baba-Rita and other handcrafted specialty cocktails.

Dewitt has worked in restaurant management and hospitality for 20 years, serving in some of America’s top dining brands across the Southeast from Mississippi to Florida and now Tennessee.

Weiss worked previously as a line cook at James Beard Award-nominated Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham, as well as its sister restaurant, Bottega Favorita. He then served as executive chef and operational manager of the city’s MetroPrime Steakhouse for four years before joining Babalu Tacos & Tapas.

To learn more about Babalu Tacos & Tapas and its Knoxville opening, visit, like the Facebook page at and follow @babaluknox on Instagram and Twitter.

About Babalu Tacos & Tapas

Babalu Tacos & Tapas is a lively restaurant that uses fresh and local ingredients to create bold flavors. You will find a variety of authentic gourmet tacos and Spanish-style tapas with a Southern twist. Every item on the menu, down to the blue corn tortilla, is made from scratch daily — our famous guacamole is prepared tableside. Our bar carries the finest tequilas, and all drinks are handcrafted daily using fresh squeezed lemons and limes. For more information, visit


Maria Cornelius