What’s Cooking: Kay’s is among area’s best-kept secrets | Food

Kay’s Cafe is possibly 1 of the ideal-retained 37-year-aged insider secrets in the spot, at minimum for all those who you should not routinely travel 11-W among Crown Colony and the Highway 394 turnoff to Blountville.

We had been alerted to go stop by Kay’s by Arcadia resident Ricky Nottingham and his mom, Barbara Carr, who recently moved back to Kingsport soon after many years of residing in Ga.

“We go at least once a 7 days, if not twice,” Carr explained, noting almost everything Nottingham orders appears to be like excellent, but she can’t nonetheless go up the probability to have a Kay’s hamburger and tater tots to try the relaxation of the menu.

“It really is the ideal hamburger I have at any time had,” Carr claimed.

Kay Huffman is the operator and chief cook dinner. She and her late partner opened the business as a fruit stand. At the time, eating solutions in between the John B. Dennis Bypass in Kingsport and Interstate 81 at Bristol ended up sparse, to say the least, on 11-W.

Buyers to the fruit stand started out asking if tender drinks or coffee were readily available. By the next calendar year, they ended up inquiring for gentle food items products this sort of as sandwiches. So Kay’s extra a walk-up order window to offer coffee, smooth beverages, snacks and sandwiches.

“Then they commenced inquiring for sizzling foodstuff,” Huffman said. “Residence cooking.”

Kay’s compact dining area was enclosed. And in the many years due to the fact, it attracts a continuous stream of diners, a lot of of whom are regulars.

Carr told us she fulfilled one particular diner, also a current transplant again to the spot, who reported she’d eaten at Kay’s every single working day for weeks.

Huffman stated the restaurant does have a stable foundation of regulars, but newcomers are not abnormal and look to be on the upswing of late. Admirer favorites contain burgers, tots, cheddar rounds and other standard diner fare. But Kay’s every day specials level their individual group of devotees. Especially preferred are soup beans and cornbread ($5) on Mondays and what is listed as roast beef, potatoes, gravy ($7) on Fridays.

Talking of selling prices, Kay’s Restaurant is money only. Credit history and debit cards are not acknowledged.

The latter is a form of upside-down open-confronted pot roast sandwich, with mashed potatoes and smothered in wealthy brown gravy. The extremely tender, quite lean shredded roast beef is first on the plate. It is really topped with mashed potatoes flanked by two triangular fifty percent-slices of loaf bread, and the gravy tops anything.

Kay stated she normally buys a 20-pound roast for Friday’s distinctive, but she trims off ALL the fats. Be warned, the roast beef unique is often sold out nicely right before closing. The lunch rush starts about 11 a.m.

The other days of the week, the day by day special is Kay’s option. Vegetable plates are $5. Dinners are mainly $7.

The entire breakfast menu is out there all day, with two exceptions: When the biscuits or gravy operate out, that is it for the day.

We requested Huffman and her workers to respond to the subsequent questions.

Q: How lengthy has your restaurant been in procedure?

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

Q: What do you think about the specialties at your restaurant and why.

A: Soup beans with cornbread, biscuits and gravy, and our daily specials this kind of as roast beef on Fridays. Our food items is distinctive because everything is created from scratch.

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

A: I commenced mastering residence cooking at, effectively, house, at the age of 11, Kay reported. And she’s been carrying out it ever considering the fact that. Kay’s correct hand in the Kay’s kitchen area is Becky Nelson. Becky mentioned she uncovered to cook from the greatest: Kay.

Q: Explain in as much element as achievable why your restaurant is appealing to consumers and how you manage that atmosphere.

A: Household cooking geared up day-to-day. Our dining space is compact and comfortable. We want our customers to sense like they’re at household, and we do our most effective to treat them like family. We wouldn’t be who and what we are these days without all of our loyal prospects, new and previous.

Q: Do you share recipes with your diners? If so, you should share your most loved recipe.

A: No. We you should not genuinely use recipes. Everything we resolve is a pinch right here or a pinch there.

Q: How do you feel your restaurant differs from other restaurants in the Tri-Cities location?

A: We are a household-owned state cafe. It is really just occur as you are.

Q: What are the benefits and shortcomings of your location?

A: An advantage is we are the only (non-quick foods) cafe on 11W involving Kingsport and Bristol. No negatives appear to mind.

Q: How usually do you modify the menu at the cafe and why?

A: The menu will not transform, other than the day-to-day specials on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. And even those people are heading to be a thing attempted and true.

Q: What’s your beloved cookbook?

A: Kay claimed she enjoys outdated-timey cookbooks but isn’t going to have a specific favourite.

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