Some time ago, we’d given up on Tugboats. Food quality had deteriorated and service was a bit rough. However, the other day we were in the area, the restaurant was convenient and we decided to check it out to see if it had improved.
Tugboats is located at the end of a small strip center at the south side of Tellico Village in Loudon County Tennessee. The strip center contains a builder’s offices and a beauty salon/spa…and the center itself is tucked in behind and to the side of Village Hardware.
Inside, the look is a bit industrial. It lacks much physical charm…but after saying that, it’s a little like a local diner so it really doesn’t need to be a dazzler…
Tugboats seems to have a fair amount of local business…much of it from nearby TN Rte. 72 and County Road 444. The menu includes Soup, Philly Cheese Steak Subs, a Patty Melt, a Grouper sandwich, a Rueben, Burgers, Chicken and Catfish Strips, additional 1/2 and full size Subs, a BBQ sandwich, Quesadillas, and a decent grouping of Pasta Dishes, plus Stromboli, Calzones, Salads and a large variety of Pizzas. They also have 7 appetizers and a small bar where they serve beer. Whenever we've driven by in the evening, we've noted that Tugboats does seem to attract a significant bar crowd.
(Special Note: The desserts in the display case looked great but we haven’t sampled them yet)
The last time we visited Tugboats several months ago, we ordered a pizza…and it was, to put it bluntly, just awful! Other folks from the area confirmed our negative experience. However, when Tugboats first opened, the pizza had been very good…as good as we’d found in the greater Knoxville area.
(Note to East Tennessee pizza aficionados: We have yet to try the fabled Big Ed’s in Oak Ridge!)
On this occasion, Laurie decided to see if any progress had been made re: the quality of the pizza, so she ordered the small 12” pizza with pepperoni and Italian sausage. ($9.99) Guess what!? It was pretty good…nice crust with decent sausage and pepperoni! Yes, we would order it again… ‘Tugboats’ is apparently back on course as regards pizza!
I ordered the Italian Sub. ($7.75) It included pepperoni, cappicola, ham, lettuce, tomato. It was topped with shredded Parmesan cheese and it was served in a loaf of their fresh baked Italian bread. (FYI…I had them leave the onions off) As you can see, this is a Big sandwich…lots of meat too. It was pretty tasty as well!
OK…From the view of the customer, Tugboats did seem a bit disorganized. There was one waitress working at the mid-lunch period…and she was running in circles trying to handle the tables, take-out and the phone. It took 22 minutes for our order to be taken. Relief did show up and that helped. Then we overheard a conversation about running out of sub rolls…not a good thing with lunch still ongoing. As for the food, our only negative comment is that both the pizza and the Italian sub seemed to have been hit with an extra dose of salt. For many retirees living in Tellico Village, that would be a turn-off.
All in all, Tugboats has made a big improvement as compared to our negative experiences from the past. When we’re in the neighborhood again, we will consider another visit to this restaurant. Tugboats is located at 266 Mialaquo Road in Loudon Tennessee. Phone: 865-458-0007 (No website is available)