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The exterior of the Monkey Town Brewing Co. in Dayton, Tenn., is seen Thursday, June 25, 2015. / Staff file photo

Rural communities across Tennessee's southeast corner have an investment in locally owned businesses, not the least among them eateries that supply food, jobs and draw visitors that help form the tax base for schools and local government.

The Southeast Tennessee Tourism Association has set up an online resource listing the region's hometown restaurants to expand the carry-out and delivery menu during the coronavirus pandemic that has dealt a crushing blow to the local business community, according to Jenni Veal, tourism coordinator for the association.

"The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been immediate for small businesses, and especially within the tourism, hospitality and restaurant industries," she said. "So in unprecedented times like this, you just do whatever you can to support what remains. And what remains right now are our restaurants and their owners, who have switched gears during this crisis to offer delicious, homemade food for take-out and delivery."

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The Dixie Freeze is in South Pittsburg, Tenn. / Staff file photo
 

The list and links to websites or social media pages includes locally owned restaurants in rural Bledsoe, Bradley, Grundy, Marion, McMinn, Meigs, Polk, Rhea and Sequatchie counties, as well as more metropolitan Bradley and Hamilton counties. The list on the agency's website is not compete, Veal said. Any locally owned restaurants that would like to be added can do so by contacting Veal at jveal@sedev.org, she said.

Tourism is Tennessee's second- largest industry and in recent years there's been record-breaking tourism growth across the state with travelers spending an estimated $60 million per day, Veal said, citing tourism office statistics.

"When tourists visit rural communities to hike, paddle and explore, their dollars not only invest in small businesses and jobs, but they generate state and local tax revenue that supports a community's schools, social services, infrastructure and local government," she said. "That economic boom has been completely shut down by COVID-19."

Sequatchie County-Dunlap Chamber of Commerce executive director Janis Adams Kyser said local restaurants are important to the local economy and have stepped up as the coronavirus pandemic puts the squeeze on local businesses and their neighbors.

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Staff photo by Erin O. Smith / Top of the Rock, a new restaurant, at Jasper Highlands is seen beside a cafe, Fiery Gizzard, under construction Thursday, October 17, 2019 in Marion County, Tennessee. The restaurant is expected to open October 28.

"Our local restaurants and businesses are critical to our survival as a community," Kyser said. "They're open and they're doing drive- thru service. They're keeping all the employees they can keep."

Kyser said staff at many restaurants are clad in masks and gloves and all are delivering meals to folks in their cars or through a drive-thru window to maintain the recommended social distances.

"We are trying to be proactive," she said. "I think that's one indication that Sequatchie County has only one confirmed case," she said, noting there could be another, overlooked factor.

"One of the things that every restaurant brings to us, they bring out the sweet tea," she said conspiratorially. "Maybe it's that Sequatchie Valley sweet tea that's keeping us going, I'm not sure."

Patty Henry owns SueBob's Diner in Powells Crossroads, Tennessee, which snugs up to the bottom of Walden's Ridge in Marion County. The pandemic has had a negative impact but a few changes combined with a drive-thru that was already in operation allow Henry to meet the changing needs of her customers.

"All I did was adjust my hours. I'm going to be expanding them again because of an opportunity I have to feed the elderly," she said. But that could change operations, too, and Henry suggests her customers check suebobs.com for the latest hours.

"I'm operating off of what's happening in the world around me," she said, mentioning Marion County Mayor David Jackson's curfew of 8 p.m. CDT announced Tuesday.

Veal hopes stir-crazy Chattanooga folks will take a short, scenic cruise for a meal from somewhere different.

"It's been heartwarming to see our communities doing all they can to support their local restaurants, but the populations in rural areas are limited," she said. "So we decided to help spread the word to our Chattanooga friends to encourage everyone to 'think regionally, act regionally.'

"Most of the small towns in our region are within a short and beautiful drive of Chattanooga, so it's not a big investment to get out on a beautiful day and take a drive for some good food that supports a small business," she said.

Videos and photos of some restaurants' current operations can be seen on the association's social media platforms, Veal said.

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Staff photo by Ben Benton / Local restaurant Fat Chunks and Dave's Restaurant has always offered take-out, drive-thru service for folks living in Gruetli-Laager, Tennessee, in central Grundy County. It's the way it works there.

Kyser in Sequatchie County said with everyone in the same situation it's time to take care of each other.

"If my boat floats and yours doesn't, we all sink together," she said.

Contact Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.

 

WHERE TO EAT

Below is the initial list of locally owned restaurants in Southeast Tennessee provided by the Southeast Tennessee Tourism Association. Phone numbers are listed as provided. The list on the agency's website is updated as new information is provided by restaurant owners. Information for restaurants with no phone number listed can be found on their social media platforms or at the association's landing page. To be added, contact Jenni Veal at jveal@sedev.org

 

SEQUATCHIE VALLEY

Pikeville

Morgan Bros. BBQ: 423-447-6423

Little Mountain Video: 423-881-3985

Mi Cabanita: 423-447-2668

Pailo Market: 423-554-3891

Pikeville Pizza King: 423-447-7564

Dunlap

Cookie Jar Café: 423-949-5852

Dunlap Restaurant: 423-949-2595

Anthony & Theresa's Homecookin': 423-949-4089

Andy's Pizza and Steakhouse: 423-949-3633

Pizza King: 423-949-4373

El Metate: 423-949-6132

Powells Crossroads

SueBob's Diner: 423-658-8575

Sequatchie

Sequatchie Cove Farm Trading Post (pre-order online only)

Whitwell

Jerome's Fine Swine BBQ: 423-658-5880

Johnny's Hook & Grill: 423-815-4014

Whitwell Dairy Bar: 423-658-6050

Rusty Joe's: 423-661-2000

Pizza Chef: 423-658-0333

Ramsey's BBQ & Catering: 423-939-0433

Jasper

Rafeal's: 423-942-8287

Top of the Rock: 423-939-9037

Snack Shack: 423-942-8955

T's Diner: 423-942-3505

Whiskey Barrel Bar & Grill: 423-939-0754

Kimball

El Toril: 423-228-4640

South Pittsburg

Stevarino's: 423-837-5420

Dragging Canoe Coffee Traders: 423-939-9372

Dixie Freeze: 423-837-6423

Harvey's Pirate Drive-In: 423-837-7763

Guild

Lookout Winery & Wood Stove Pizza

 

TENNESSEE'S SOUTH CUMBERLAND

Monteagle

Jim Oliver's Smokehouse Restaurant: 931-924-2091

Mountain Goat Market: 931-924-2727

Papa Ron's: 931-924-3355

High Point: 931-924-4600

Depot Café: 931-224-3842

Dixie Dinner: 931-924-9292

Tracy City

Hank's Corner Grille

Dutch Maid Bakery & Cafe

Palmer

The Southern Oven: 931-779-6836

Pelham

Simply Southern: 931-467-2600

Gruetli-Laager

Fat Chunks and Dave's: 931-779-4080

 

CHATTANOOGA & TENNESSEE RIVER BASIN

Dayton

Monkey Town Brewing Company

Screen Door Kitchen

Chattanooga

2 Squares A Day

Bread & Butter

Edley's Bar-B-Que

River Street Deli

The Southern Star – downtown

Southern Star Takeout – Signal Mountain

Wally's Restaurant

Fat Boy's Roadside Eats

Hixson

Ankar's Hoagies

California Tortilla

The Chef & His Wife

Rib & Loin

Ooltewah

Bite Me Bakery

Shane's Rib Shack

Countryside Cafe

 

SOUTHERN BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS & FOOTHILLS

Cleveland

Café Roma

Shane's Rib Shack 423-476-5970

Ocoee/Benton

Ocoee Dam Deli

Bakery on Main

Athens

Maddi Mae's Café

Source: Southeast Tennessee Tourism Association

 

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