By Michele Karl
After a visit to Jim Oliver’s Smoke House Restaurant, Cabins, and Best Western Lodge on Monteagle Mountain, Tennessee, one thing you will remember is the food they offer at the restaurant.
Known for their delicious Southern Cookin’ inspired by generations of family cooks, the restaurant offers some of the best ribs you’ll find anywhere.
Their dinner buffet is reasonably priced and all you can eat, so you will walk away full. The morning breakfast buffet offers some of the best smoked bacon found anywhere along with all the fixin’s.
Founded by Jim Oliver who worked in the restaurant business along with his brother Melvin, the two pooled their resources and purchased the original Monteagle Diner at auction in the early 1960s.
In 1973 the two brothers parted ways with Jim selling his interest of The Monteagle Diner to Melvin. By November of 1975, Jim completed construction on The Smoke House and opened for business. Utilizing his mother’s recipes, Jim’s country-themed restaurant soon became a regional favorite, and received nationwide recognition as one of the top 500 eating establishments in 1988 and again in 1989.
A series of renovations followed, including the construction of 5,500 square-feet of meeting facilities, 85 lodging rooms, 19 cabins, campground, an on-site wine and spirits shop, wedding chapel, and real estate office. In 1998, The Smoke House Lodge was accepted as a member of the National Best Western franchise.
When Jim passed away in May of 2007, his daughter Betsy and son James took over the reins of the family business.
To date, the destination has served over 20 million customers from all over the world.
“That’s the best part of everything we do here,” said James Oliver. “It’s meeting all the people.”
When you visit the restaurant you will see memorabilia throughout. Letters and photos from past patrons include celebrities (Naomi Judd) and politicians (Dan Quayle) which line the walls as well as antiques and various memorabilia.
On the way out of the restaurant you will need to pick up some of the gifts and food items for sale including Jim Oliver’s bar-b-que sauces, Watkins products and homemade fudge.
“We have sold tons of fudge over the years,” said James.
They offer the basic varieties and some unusual mixtures such as their homemade “snickers” fudge loaded with chucks of snickers.
With all the things to do in the area you don’t have to travel far to have a good time. There is hiking nearby or you can visit The University of the South, a 10,000-acre campus atop the Cumberland Plateau in Sewanee, Tennessee known for its antique European styled buildings.
“We are in a great center location,” said James. “We are right between Nashville and Chattanooga so you can take in the sites of those cities and still stay with us.”
The lodge also offers an outside swimming pool, shuffleboard courts, tennis courts, basketball, fishing, children’s playground and volleyball courts to keep you busy or you can just sit back on a rocking chair outside one of the cabins and relax and watch the leaves fall from the trees.
On Saturday evenings the lodge plays hosts to “Music on the Mountain with The Best of Nashville”, a free to guests singer/songwriter acoustic music show, featuring some of the most talented artists and songwriters in Nashville.
About a two and half hour drive from Sevier County, The Smoke House is a great family destination or a couple’s weekend getaway.
They are located at 850 West Main Street, Monteagle, TN 37356. For more information you can check out their Web site at www.TheSmokeHouse.com, call 1-800-489-2091 or drop James an email at email@example.com.
Oliver’s 50 plus years of family tradition
By Michele Karl