By Mike Steely

If it is soul food you crave there’s a new restaurant on Cherry Street that’s just waiting for you to come in and dine. LaFetta’s Soul Food Restaurant is owned and operated by well-known Knoxville personality, community activist and 2016 Good Neighbor of the Year, David Gillette.

Gillette welcomes you to the versatile restaurant. He named the restaurant for his mother, who has been a cook all her life.

“She always wanted to have her own restaurant,” Gillette said. His mother is ill but comes in the restaurant now and then to oversee the cooking. Dasiny McIlwaine, the cook, doesn’t mind and says that they offer a wide variety of food with daily specials like chicken and dressing or Philly steak over rice.

“We have a creative team who knows the restaurant hospitality business. Everybody fills in here as needed,” Gillette says.

Ulyses Hamp, the manager, said LaFetta’s is different thanks to the food, atmosphere, and music.

“It’s only one of three soul food restaurants within 30 or so miles and we have a family sit-down place with good soul food, good service, and we like to laugh and joke with our customers,” Hamp said.

“We’re comfortable,” he added.

“We’re not here to compete with anyone. We’re closed on Tuesdays and our customers can go to another soul food restaurant. On Mondays, when the others are closed, we’re open,” Gillette said.

There is another reason why LaFetta’s is different. “We have two delivery services, do catering and take reservations if you like,” Gillette said, adding that LaFetta’s has recently partnered with Gateway for home and office delivery.

“Business has been steady,” Gillette said.

A glance at LaFetta’s menu would make anyone hungry; it features food like chicken and dressing, ham hocks, smothered pork chops, chopped steak, chicken livers and gizzards, fried green tomatoes, chicken and waffles, deep fried pickles, pork belly bites, baked mac and cheese, Southern collard greens, and a variety of sandwiches including LaFetta’s Soul Burger.

Hamp’s only complaint was that LaFetta’s served deep fried turkey during Thanksgiving and he got left out and didn’t get any.

LaFetta’s, located at 703 North Cherry Street, is open Wednesdays through Mondays from noon until 9 p.m. McIlwaine said that when the restaurant closes at night any food prepared and left over is taken to the missions.

The restaurant opened October 6th after months of renovation to the building. Gillette and Hamp can tell stories of the troubles they went through to get the place renovated and open.

“I really want to thank the city and the county for working with us prior to opening,” he said.

Delivery is available from “” or “” Or you can come by and walk into LaFetta’s for a meal you won’t forget.

“It’s almost a daily festival of fine taste and good food,” Gillette said.

You’ll find the East Knoxville restaurant on Facebook or by calling (865)394-6631. LaFetta’s is located just off I- 40 between the interstate and Magnolia Avenue.

“We also welcome groups for birthday parties, company dinners, baby showers, and will partner with churches for events,” Gillette says.

“We’d love for you to come, take your time, and enjoy,” he said.