But then we spotted this eye-catching restaurant as we cruised along TN Route 304, which runs along the east side of Watts Bar Lake. Since it was so cute, we just had to check it out!
It was about 2:30 pm on a Sunday, right about in the middle between an early day brunch and before any traditional early supper crowd. As you can see, Carter's doesn't just have a restaurant, the owners also have a small RV park and a mini-golf course.
Here's a photo of the miniature golf course...a true putt-putt course! Its more like the kind that I grew up with. No castles, flying dragons, mountains...just quirky little putting greens. Cost: $4.00 per person for 18 holes and only $2.00 additional for individual replays!
Danny and Patsy Carter are collectors, that's for sure! There is so much going on inside the restaurant that you could spend a half hour just looking at all of the detail...
The restaurant is warm and inviting...with the appearance a bit reminiscent of an upper Midwest north woods supper club. The entire restaurant...including the restrooms...was spotless!
Here's another view of the decor in this warm and inviting yet quirky restaurant. One room is chock full of Danny Carter's golf memorabilia. We had a chance to visit with Danny and we learned that his grandfather was one of the very first to buy property and develop it along this part of the shores of Watts Bar Lake. Like grandpa, like grandson...entrepreneurs!
Carter's Restaurant does not employ a waitstaff... You order your food at the counter, the cashier gives you a number and a server brings your food to the table when its ready. Danny told us that he can operate with fewer people this way. He has to pay them more but he avoids the larger payroll and challenging staffing issues in a tough labor market.
Carter's Restaurant offers all of the basics...burgers, chop sirloin with sauteed onions, a country fried steak sandwich, hot dogs, onion rings, a fish sandwich, sub sandwiches, a bunch of salads...and for dessert the house old fashioned apple dumpling with ice cream. Prices are very reasonable! Four young guys were scarfing down grilled cheese sandwiches and French fries with a beverage. ($6.17 each + tax and tip)
This is the service counter...complete with a pizza oven. The kitchen is immediately to the rear of this area. Danny's wife and partner, Patsy, is the primary cook for the restaurant. Danny told us that we'd just missed the Sunday morning after church crowd...
We have been starved for good thin crust pizza since we came to East Tennessee... Danny told us that his is the best there is! We promised to come back soon and test out his claim. The price is certainly right on! How about a big 16" thin crust pizza with cheese, pepperoni and Italian sausage for only $13.49! Or...a 16" all meat pizza, with pepperoni, sausage, ground beef and ham for a mere $14.99...
Laurie and I both ordered the Sunday Fried Chicken Special. ($8.29) This special consisted of 2 boneless chicken breasts, a choice of a roll or cornbread, and 2 sides. This was my plate and I chose the coleslaw and squash. I didn't expect the squash to be deep fried but what the heck, it was good! Being transplanted northerners, we had unsweet tea with our meals. ($1.99 each)
Laurie ordered potato salad and green beans as her sides. The corn bread was good, my slaw was very good, Laurie's green beans w/ ham were excellent and so was her potato salad! While we both generally prefer our chicken with bones, Patsy managed to deliver moist and tender chicken that was very enjoyable!
All dinners at Carter's Restaurant come with 2 sides...and there are 15 sides to chose from. The most expensive item on the dinner menu is a 10 oz. Angus ribeye steak. ($14.99) Other choices include such items as Chicken Parmesan, Fried Fish on Friday nights, Fried Shrimp, Hand-Breaded Chicken Livers, and a Pork Tenderloin...grilled or breaded. Other than the steak, $8.29 is as much as you can spend for dinner!
This is Danny's office...a little log cabin in the woods close by the restaurant. We told him that it was so attractive he should rent it out! We think he's thinking about it!
We will be back to Carter's Restaurant! For one thing, the food was very good and secondly, we have to take on Danny's pizza 'challenge'! It's easy to get to this restaurant. Exit I-75 at TN Route 68 West towards Watts Bar Dam and Lake. Just a mile or so before you get to the dam, look for Route 304 north. The restaurant is just a couple of miles up the road on the right hand side.
Carter's Restaurant is located at 3430 State Highway 304 in Ten Mile Tennessee. Phone: 423-334-3300. The restaurant is open from Wednesday through Sunday starting at 11 AM. Check out Danny and Patsy's website with lots of photos at www.cartersrestaurant.net.
Just click on any photos to enlarge them...
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave