What to cook: Kay’s is one of the region’s best kept secrets | meal – Advice Eating

Kay’s Restaurant is perhaps one of the best-kept 37-year-old secrets in the area, at least to those who don’t routinely drive on 11-W between Crown Colony and the 394 turn-off to Blountville.

Arcadia resident Ricky Nottingham and his mother, Barbara Carr, who recently returned to Kingsport after years in Georgia, suggested we visit Kay’s.

“We go at least once a week, if not twice,” Carr said, noting that whatever Nottingham orders looks good, but she can’t pass up the opportunity to have a Kay’s hamburger and Tater Tots just yet Try the rest of the menu.

“This is the best hamburger I’ve ever eaten,” Carr said.

Kay Huffman is the owner and executive chef. She and her late husband started the business as a fruit stand. At the time, restaurants on 11-W between the John B. Dennis Bypass in Kingsport and Interstate 81 in Bristol were few, to say the least.

Customers at the fruit stand asked if soft drinks or coffee were available. In the second year, they asked for light meals like sandwiches. That’s why Kay’s added a walk-in order window to offer coffee, soft drinks, snacks and sandwiches.

“Then they started asking for hot food,” Huffman said. “Home Cooking.”

Kay’s small dining area was fenced off. And in the years since, it’s attracted a steady stream of guests, many of whom are regulars.

Carr told us she met a diner who had also recently returned to the area and said she ate at Kay’s every day for weeks.

Huffman said the restaurant has a solid base of repeat customers, but newcomers are not uncommon and seem to have been on the upswing lately. Fan favorites include burgers, tots, rounds of cheddar, and other signature diner fare. But Kay’s daily specials evaluate her own group of devotees. Especially popular are soup beans and cornbread on Mondays ($5) and roast beef, potatoes and gravy on Fridays ($7).

Speaking of prices, Kay’s Restaurant is cash only. Credit and debit cards are not accepted.

The latter is a type of upside down pot roast sandwich with mashed potatoes and a rich brown gravy. The very tender, very lean roast beef is the first thing on the plate. It’s topped with mashed potatoes, flanked by two triangular half slices of bread, and the gravy tops it all.

Kay said she usually buys a £20 roast for Friday’s special, but she cuts off ALL the fat. Be warned, the roast beef special often sells out well before closing. The midday rush begins around 11 a.m

The other days of the week, the dish of the day is Kay’s choice. Vegetable platters are $5. Dinners are mostly $7.

The full breakfast menu is available all day with two exceptions: once the biscuits or gravy run out, that’s it for the day.

We asked Huffman and her collaborators to answer the following questions.

Q: How long has your restaurant been in existence?

Subscribe to Kingsport Daily Digest!

Top stories delivered straight to your inbox.

A: Almost 37 years. We opened on June 27, 1985.

Q: What do you think are the specialties of your restaurant and why?

A: Bean soup with cornbread, biscuits and gravy, and our daily specials like roast beef on Fridays. Our food is special because everything is homemade.

Q: What is your culinary training and how did you learn to do what you do in the kitchen?

A: I started mastering home cooking at age 11, Kay said. And she has been doing it ever since. Kay’s right hand in Kay’s kitchen is Becky Nelson. Becky said she learned to cook from the best: Kay.

Q: Explain in as much detail as possible why your restaurant appeals to customers and how you maintain that ambiance.

A: Home cooking prepared daily. Our dining area is small and cozy. We want our customers to feel at home and we do our best to treat them like family. Without all of our loyal customers, new and old, we wouldn’t be what we are today.

Q: Do you share recipes with your guests? If yes, please share your favorite recipe.

On a. We don’t actually use recipes. Everything we fix is ​​a pinch here or a pinch there.

Q: How do you think your restaurant is different from other restaurants in the Tri-Cities area?

A: We are a family owned country restaurant. It just happened the way you are.

Q: What are the pros and cons of your location?

A: One benefit is that we are the only (non-fast food) restaurant on 11W between Kingsport and Bristol. I can’t think of any disadvantages.

Q: How often do you change the menu at the restaurant and why?

A: The menu does not change, apart from the daily specials on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. And even those will be something tried and tested.

Q: What is your favorite cookbook?

A: Kay said she likes old cookbooks but doesn’t have a particular favorite.

Try the Kingsport Times News app today. Download it here from Google Play and the App Store.

recommended videos

Leave a Comment