Treva Best and I enjoyed lunch at Gracie’s on July 12. We met at noon, so several diners were already eating when we arrived. We chose a booth next to windows. We asked our server what the most popular dishes were, and she told us that three probably shared that distinction: chopped steak, meatloaf and turkey and dressing. Both Treva and I selected the meatloaf. It was very good. While we were eating, owner and cook Ken Gentry came out to talk to us. Before opening Gracie’s in March of 2004, he spent time in the Army and lived in other places around the South. His restaurant serves country cooking and is popular among area residents, as evidenced by the numerous Daily Times’ “Reader’s Choice” awards hanging on the wall behind the cash register. Mr. Gentry told us that he believes his success is due to three main things: good product, good price and good service. He employs 25 people, which includes some family members. He named the restaurant for his daughter, Grace. Son Grant has a hamburger named for him.
As I walked into the restaurant with fellow classmate Steve White and witnessed the quality of the food that was being served to other customers that were already seated, I half expected to see Guy Fieri and his signature spiked blonde hair sampling the table fare at T.C.’s Grill. Shortly after being seated, Steve and I surveyed our surroundings and noticed a theme distinct in local flavor with football memorabilia from area high schools and Maryville College on display throughout the room. Our waitress, Miss Deedee Mallernee, recommended the hamburger steak for lunch as it is T.C.’s most popular meal; upon devouring it, along with side of fresh vegetable medley, I concurred with Deedee’s assessment. Upon finishing our lunch, Deedee introduced us to the owner of T.C.’s Grill, Mr. Tom Clark. Tom advised that T.C.’s Grill opened in August, 2008 at its original location at 732 Calderwood Highway, before moving to its current location at the old
Pride of the Southland Market location on 20 June, 2012. When asked what the secret was to the continued success of T.C.’s Grill, Tom simply stated that the most obvious factor was the quality of the food and service provided to patrons over the years, along with the friendly and inviting atmosphere found inside T.C.’s Grill.
TC’s Grill is a good local family restaurant. The service was wonderful. The restaurant has been in business for about a month with this site in Maryville. The restaurant is housed in a converted gas station that had a decent size mini mart. The decorative theme is from the 50’s auto-racing scene. Like that era the cooks masterfully mastered the cheeseburger. Therefore, it was not a surprise that the cheeseburger and fries is the most popular item on the menu. TC’s Grill success can be contributed to its owners. The owner of TC, Mr. Tom Clark, has owned other successful restaurants in this community, namely Bel Air Grill. He understands and knows the community well. Therefore, the community is supporting him while enjoying good food. Lastly, TC’s Grill location is the other variable that is contributing to its success.
Rosemary Garland and Kim Henry visited the wonderful Hot Rod’s 50’s Diner. Both of us feel that it was a really good place to eat, especially if you wanted to get the most food for your buck!
On the day we were there, the crowd was overflowing into the outside seating. Even though it was our normal hot summer day, the owner made provisions to keep his guests comfortable with outside fans.
The favorite dish of the Diner was the Classic Hamburger which Rosemary thought was great. Even though the Chicken Tender Salad was not the favorite dish of the restaurant, it was a hit for Kim.
The restaurant has been open for 3 years and is locally owned by Ray Schwartz. According to our wonderful server, what makes Hot Rods successful is the partnership that they have in our community. This commitment was recently evidenced by Hot Rods partnering with the Blount County Animal Shelter for fund raising.
We both would highly recommend this unique 50’s getaway, for a great meal…but come hungry!
Will Pitt and I had lunch at Aroma the Cuban restaurant. Emile Migoia is the
owner and our picture is attached. They have been in business for four and a
half years and recently expanded to a second location. Emile attributes his
success to a “Keep it simple” philosophy. The menu is somewhat limited but
the most popular dish is their medium sized Cuban Sandwich with bean combo.
The meal is fairly priced and huge. We both tried the combo.
Jim Norton and I visited the Aroma Caf efor lunch on Monday, July 23rd. This is a small “hole-in-the-wall”Cuban cafe located in the Eagleton community. We both arrived around noon and were able to speak with the owner directly. He was working behind the counter and took our order. He said that he had been in business for about four and a half years and had just opened a second location on 411. He felt his keys to success was providing authentic Cuban food at a reasonable price, while keeping things very simple. The menu was fairly limited and that the most popular dish was the Cuban sandwich combo, which included a sandwich, black (or red?) beans and a drink. Seating appeared to fairly limited, but I noticed that a fair amount of patrons placed to-go orders. As it so happens, we ran into fellow LB13 classmates Carl Gombert and Jeremy Pearson, who had also chosen to eat there for their introductory lunch. Very nice gentlemen. Overall, a great experience…both the food and the company!
For the past 8 years, I have worked every day about 2 blocks down from the Midland Restaurant and had never eaten there. This has more to do with my schedule than the restaurant, but I have always been curious about the place and was excited to get the chance to go. I have been told by many folks that they have the best pancakes in Blount County.
Paul Monroe and I met there for breakfast on a Thursday. The first thing I really liked was that I got to seat myself and they had comfortable, roomy booths. We had two servers. Our first server had only been there 20 years but was fairly certain that the place had been open 47 years and that it was successful due to the good food and friendly atmosphere. She said they made customers feel welcome there and they came back because of it. Our second server agreed and was nice enough to have her picture taken with us. I was impressed that everyone we talked with had been there for many years. It says something about the place that the employees stay on and feel connected to the restaurant and its history and seemed to know many of the customers by name.
The “Early Bird Special” is their best breakfast seller. I was a bit disappointed at first that it did not come with pancakes, but she was quick to let me substitute a pancake for the biscuits and gravy. Overall, the food was very good, the service was quick, the atmosphere was very comfortable and clean and the bill was quite reasonable. I am not sure why I drove by the place for the past 8 years without stopping, but I am already thinking about my next visit and their great pancakes.