Known by many for their Airstream trailer serving up roadside gourmet grub at the foot of Signal, Petunia's Silver Jalapeno owners Virginia Cofer and Laura Powell now invite diners to take a seat and make themselves at home in their new mountaintop restaurant.
The pair opened Gin Gin's last month in the old private home on Taft Highway which formerly housed The Front Porch.
The new restaurant has already expanded its offerings to include dinner, with breakfast soon to follow.
Cofer has worked as executive chef at venues such as hotels, restaurants and country clubs serving three meals a day, but Gin Gin's is the first restaurant she owns that will expand its menu beyond lunch fare. Petunia's, with locations on Signal Mountain Road and inside Warehouse Row, targets the lunch crowd and serves most items a la carte.
A few lunch items have been carried over from the Petunia's menu, including the famous Petunia's Smoked Butt (hence the slogan "The butt stops here") and The Loverboy All Beef Dog, a quarter-pound hot dog on a homemade bun with chili, cheese, onions, mustard and slaw.
Cofer describes the food as "basics with flair," such as a club sandwich or Cobb salad topped with jalapeno bacon instead of ho-hum regular bacon, or beef kabobs served with fried rice for an unexpected kick. She is also putting her own twist on items popular in previous decades that seem to have fallen off today's menus, such as prime rib, cranberry gelatin salad and peel-and-eat shrimp.
The restaurant features specials and side item options which vary according to seasonal produce and change daily.
Cofer said her motto when it comes to cooking is "Do it slowly and do it right," which is why nearly everything is made from scratch, from the ranch dressing to the pancake syrup. Gin Gin's also smokes its own meats, and Cofer's Reuben, already one of the restaurant's best-sellers, features corn beef coated with her own special spice blend and slow-roasted overnight.
Her eyes light up when she talks about the new breakfast offerings, which she said the restaurant will soon begin serving every day but Sunday from 6:30-11 a.m.
"The idea is to accommodate the working person and the person who wants a leisurely breakfast," said Cofer.
The selection will include breakfast classics such as pancakes, country ham, biscuits, omelets, fried eggs and bacon.
On Sundays, Gin Gin's serves only brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., which Cofer says is always busy, so she highly recommends reservations. The brunch buffet features an omelet station and a variety of items which change weekly, with options including some type of seafood, stuffed French toast casserole, eggs Benedict, vegetables and desserts.
With a sunny new yellow paint job and freshly finished wood floors, the old home housing Gin Gin's gives the restaurant an inviting small town atmosphere.
"This is an old house, and I wanted it to feel like a home," said Cofer.