The restaurant and sports bar now known as Cappy’s Apex has been known by many names in its more than seven decades in operation, and new name could soon be in order.
Owner Lynn “Cappy” Ervin is moving on to a new business venture in creating a campground along the Nolichucky River. He said he can no longer devote his time and energy to both businesses.
“I’m looking for someone to take it and grow what I’ve built. I was torn when I put it up for sale. It’s hard. I’ve met so many people here and friends and everybody. Nobody knew Cappy before the Apex. I had never had the name Cappy before I bought the Apex,” he said.
The Apex, 604 W. Market St., has been a Johnson City landmark dating back to the 1930s when it was known as Apex Barbecue. Over the years the business has changed hands and has been known as Sammy’s Apex, Porky’s Apex and Terry’s Apex before coming under the ownership of Ervin.
Ervin has fond memories of going to the restaurant as a child when it under the ownership of Sammy Collins.
“That’s when all the college kids came here. My dad used to bring me here when it was Sammy’s,” he said.
After owning the Apex for about 15 years, Terry Miller sold the business to Cappy, who took over five years ago.
It was his first venture into the restaurant business.
Using his background as a contractor, Ervin took time to renovate the building, removing the vinyl siding for a stucco finish, uncovering original windows, and adding a patio area for live music as the landmark turned more into a sports bar.
“When I first started, the Apex was kind of a like a landmark, and I kind of brought it back to life. It sat here and people would drive by it and never see it. Now they notice it and the business was great,” he said.
That success continued for a while until the economic downturn struck and sales dropped by 40 percent, Ervin said.
Despite the hit the business took, Cappy’s Apex has turned around and its sales are now back at what they were prior to the recession.
“When the recession hit, we took a hit like everybody, but we’ve pulled through it and since the middle of 2010, we’ve been on a rise ever since,” he said.
For those worried about a distinct change in what the Apex offers, don’t fret. Ervin is looking for an owner who will keep the Apex tradition alive.
Ervin will still have a stake in the business as property owner, and he hopes to do some more improvements to the Apex when the new owner comes on board.
“I feel like I’ll be a regular here, just on the other side of the bar,” he said.