By Tasha Mahurin
In East Knoxville, just at the Magnolia Ave. and Asheville Hwy. split, lies a local lunch spot so distinctly “Knoxville” that one of their regular customers is Johnny Knoxville himself. The smorgasbord menu includes everything from home-cooked Southern favorites, such as fried catfish and vegetable soup, to classic Americana fare like hamburgers and French fries and the clientele is just as diverse. At lunch hour, tables fill with people from all walks of life. Judges and hairstylists, bankers and construction crews, elected officials and auto-mechanics, and occasionally, the governor, parade in-and-out daily for breakfast or lunch.
Despite the hustle and bustle you immediately feel at home at this cozy little diner. Perhaps, it’s because Joyce Collier and daughter/owner, Misty Bullock, know their customers by name- and often order. For nearly 20 years, The Lunch House has been solely a family operation, and, true to form, the food is reminiscent of eating at your grandmother’s table.
When asked what’s the best thing on the menu, Joyce Collier replied: “Our chicken-and-dumplings, we serve every Wednesday, are the most popular. Everybody loves them.”
Every plate that comes out of The Lunch House’s kitchen is homemade, from scratch…including the cobbler- which many bill as the “best in town.”
East Knox resident and Knox County School Board Representative Mike McMillan is a regular customer and a fan of the blackberry cobbler in particular. “Their blackberry cobbler is excellent,” McMillan told The Focus in between bites.
Additionally, while similar restaurants might order items premade, the crew at The Lunch House makes everything in-house- including their own potato salad and coleslaw.
So what’s the secret to a homespun atmosphere that makes everyone feel welcome the first time they walk in the door and cuisine that keeps them coming back again and again?
“Experience,” Collier told The Focus. “I’ve been doing this for 35 or 40 years.”
Each day the staff arrives at 5:30 a.m. to prepare for the breakfast rush, but according to Collier it’s all worth it to see a satisfied grin on the face of her patrons, who are greeted with a warm smile, and sent on their way with a genuine “thank-you.”
“Our customers are the best part of the job,” she added.
The Lunch House is located at 3816 Holston Drive and is open Monday thru Saturday from 6:00 am until 3:00 p.m.