Appalachia

The Mystery Of The Coffee Pot Restaurant

the coffee pot restaurant

A good while back a Blind Pig reader contacted me by email. He’s been a reader for several years and has been a guest post writer as well. Perhaps you remember one of his guest posts or seeing his name in the comments-David Templeton?

David is looking for information about something from his childhood-we’re hoping you might be able to help him. Here, in David’s own words is what he is looking for:

It would have been 1955 or early 1956. Dad had no particular skills and took work wherever he could find enough pay to raise seven kids. By the time he reached his fifties, he was tired of working for the Man and dreamed about having his own business. Mom, who had worked mostly at waitressing, after wartime defense plant jobs, wished she could have a restaurant of her own to run the way she knew would make money.

There was one available restaurant along Highway 11W near Kingsport, and it could be had on contract and relatively small payments. It wasn’t the best situation, no steamtable and not very well equipped otherwise; but it had a good location on a main highway.
Before making a commitment to a less than perfect situation, they decided to look all around the area for other restaurant opportunities. Their search turned up one that sounded good but it was a little far off from where we lived.
I remember it took us quite a while to travel to it and it seems it was over in North Carolina. It was along a fairly flat stretch of highway and as we approached it, we could see that it had a huge “coffee pot ” atop the restaurant. Somehow, however, the deal didn’t go through and Mom and Dad eventually opened “Dave’s 11W Cafe” near Church Hill, Tennessee in 1956.
The coffeepot restaurant had become a kind of a roadside attraction not unlike many such devices to be seen along the highways and byways of pre-Interstate America. Back then, there were Paul Bunyan with Babe, there were giant dinosaurs; there was a giant catsup bottle at Collinsville, Illinois; a motel where the cabins were all big wigwams (it’s still there, over on US 31 near Cave City, Kentucky).
Most such attractions are gone now, including the restaurant with the big coffee pot atop. But my interest now lies in trying to recollect just where the coffeepot restaurant was located. I am hoping that some Blind Pig and the Acorn reader will remember the coffeepot restaurant so I can stop wandering.

I wasn’t around in those days, but I have asked several folks who I thought might remember the coffee pot restaurant-all to no avail. David and I are hoping one of you remember it. Please leave a comment if you do or you can email me at [email protected]

Tipper

 

 

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20 Comments

  • Reply
    RB
    February 5, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    No idea, but I do know where the Big Chicken Restaurant in Marietta, GA is. LOL
    God bless.
    RB
    <><

  • Reply
    Gale Hall
    February 5, 2012 at 7:41 am

    I remember the Coffee Pot restaurant from the 60’s at least, we used to go there for a break when we were at Brown’s funeral home across the tracks and about a quarter mile up the river. I can’t remember who run it then. It was my Daddy’s favorite place to go. I was a kid then and wasn’t impressed with it then, but, I missed it when gone.

  • Reply
    Angie
    February 4, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/3851
    Another coffee pot in Kentucky

  • Reply
    Angie
    February 4, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/6687
    I don’t know if this is the coffee pot restaurant David was referring to, but he can look at the above link to check it out. This one is in Roanoke Va. have a look

  • Reply
    Ken
    February 4, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Tipper,
    I ain’t no help on this quest. I
    even called several folks and still no luck. Guess they were as
    poor as we were back then, cause
    we didn’t even have a car…Ken

  • Reply
    Gary Powell
    February 4, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    I don’t know about the Coffee Pot, but I only live about 30 minutes from the WigWam village in Cave City. Still in operation.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    February 4, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    Was it the old “Coffee Pot” in Newport? I lived there starting in the early 80’s & there was an old restuarant on a flat stretch of highway called the Coffee Pot, but I seem to remember an old neon sign of said pot. Always heard a lot of interesting things happened there & it was on the bootleggers road, so they may even be true! I believe a daycare center is operating on the site now-hope this helps, David.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    February 4, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Ruth, You guessed it! I’ve never been inside the place myself. Although I live 2 hours away I still feel its effects. Friends and family will drive the 2 hours, stay 1 hour, and drive the 2 hours back home broke and call it having fun. I tell them for the price of a stamp they can mail them the money and save gas and wear and tear in their auto.
    I went to school with some of the natives you were afraid of and guess what, they are pretty much like everybody else. They have to take acting lessons to be Wild Indians.
    I’m sorry! We are talking about a Coffee Pot!

  • Reply
    Bradley
    February 4, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    I can’t offer any clues to this coffee pot cafe mystery. I am not from this area but I can remember those wigwam type buildings (usually motel rooms) that I saw when I was a little boy when we would go to Cherokee. Actually, we stayed in one of those once just to see what it would be like.
    I can almost retrieve that coffee pot memory. Maybe it will come out of my mind eventually. Still, I’ll bet some of the readers of this blog will remember. If not now, then later.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    February 4, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Tipper—David has, as Grandpa Joe might have said, “gone and done it.” He’s planted an image in my mind that will be as bad as the lyrics from “Gonna Catch a North Wind.” That is to say, running through my mind like a mountain stream, tempting, tantalizing, and mesmerizing—but also elusive. I did my undergraduate studies over David’s way (at King College in Bristol) from 1960-64, and I remember seeing the coffee pot. But I’ll be darned if I can take it beyond that. Maybe Larry Proffitt, who is a regular reader here and who has roots in that area (Elizabethton) will recall. I hope so, because until that happens I’ll be a wonderin’ mess of mystery.
    Jim Casada
    http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com

  • Reply
    LINDA L. KERLIN
    February 4, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Good luck , David in finding your coffee pot restaurant or at least the large coffee pot and I do hope that you and Tipper will tell us the results of your hunt!

  • Reply
    Rick Kratzke
    February 4, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Sorry I can’t help but i hope you have some luck from somebody.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    February 4, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Tipper,
    and Ed…When I read Eds comment, I wondered what in the world he was talkin’ about…’cause when I was a kid (40’s/50’s) all we ever spent money on at the Tee-Pee store in Cherokee, was for my Dad’s cigarettes…I would slip in and look at the beautiful little 8″ dolls and moccasins…and always (to no avail) after asking get a doll or moccasins. On the way out with his tobacco in a poke, he would stop on the wooden porch and sometimes spend a nickle to get us a RC to share between us kids….
    THEN, I remembered this is 2012 and Cherokee means CASINO now a days….I actually remember going thru town back then and not seeing but one or two cars…in the early forties, while I gaped half shaking looking for the natives! LOL Those were the good ole days…
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    sandra
    February 4, 2012 at 9:55 am

    I remember the wigwams at cave city, but nothing about a coffee pot.

  • Reply
    Ethel
    February 4, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Wish I could help, but I’ve been in NE Ohio all my life.
    I hope you find out where the giant coffeepot was!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 4, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Tipper and David, I have no recall of the coffee pot restaurant. Around that time my family lived in Knoxville and we traveled “home” regularly to visit family in Canton. There was no I 40 then and we traveled over the mountain through Gatlinburg. I suspect that the area you are looking for is farther north on the North Carolina and Tennessee border.
    Perhaps a truck driver or liquor runner could be of help. There was a lot of moonshine hauled from Newport into the Asheville area.
    This is a fun post. It will be interesting to see what turns up!

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    February 4, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Sorry, David, but I don’t know the area very well. However, I think you might get a map of the areas near where you are looking and do some exploration. Did you try working with the various tax departments in the counties surrounding approximately where you think it is. You would be surprised what you might find. Good luck with your search!

  • Reply
    Kimberly
    February 4, 2012 at 9:13 am

    I doubt this is what you are looking for, but we have The Coffee Pot right here in Roanoke!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Coffee_Pot_(Roanoke,_Virginia)
    http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/6687

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    February 4, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Tipper,
    Have David check out this site:
    http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/6171
    I believe this is it…
    Very interesting post…
    There was a sign in Hot Springs back in the day that always fasinated me as a kid….It just said… CAFE..I always think of CALF…everytime I saw it when we drove thru town…I think that was because I couldn’t wait to get to Grannys in Madison County to see the baby calf…and I knew by that time we were getting close to Grannys….LOL
    Great Post…Tipper…Hope this helps David…
    B. Ruth….

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    February 4, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Having grown up near Cherokee NC I’ve seen all kinds of objects and critters on top of and out front of shops and restaurants. But, Sorry David, no Coffeepot.
    Speaking of Cherokee, for those of you who have never been, it is a strange place. There seems to be an anomaly, maybe a vortex, some call it Hoover. Anyway whatever is it, when you drive through, even with your windows up, it’ll suck all the money out of your pockets.

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