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Out to Lunch: Jacob Myers has picturesque scenery, good food

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By Bethel Poston

Our first trip to the Strawberry Festival in Dayton was a fun adventure. As Kingston Jaycee president (1959-60), along with my wife, Carol, we chauffeured Nancy Henry, our candidate for Strawberry Queen, to the Festival.

Harriman Ford let us borrow a new convertible for Nancy’s ride in the Strawberry Festival’s parade.

Nancy is the sister of Kingston’s Jim Henry, former Tennessee state representative and currently Tennessee’s Commissioner for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Carol told me about her “Rockwood Ladies Lunch Bunch” recent visit to Jacob Myers Restaurant on the River in Dayton. I decided an “Out to Lunch” article at Jacob Myers would interest readers who plan to attend the Tennessee Strawberry Festival. Events begin on April 24.

For more information, go to www.tnstrawberryfestival.com.

I did a little computer research and found that Jacob Myers is “definitely a destination restaurant. It’s located in a beautiful park overlooking the water. We rode our jet skis there over the summer, plus they have their own boat dock.”

Another online comment: “This is a hidden gem of Dayton — though from what I hear quickly becoming less hidden. If you’re in the mood for something eclectic, but delicious, head to Jacob Myers. You won’t be disappointed.”

Knowing that our Kingston friends, Wayne and Sydney Woodlee, graduated from Dayton High School, we asked them to join us for this “Out to Lunch” adventure.

Wayne’s father operated the Dayton Theater in the ’40s and ’50s, and Wayne sold popcorn. The theater was torn down, and the property is now occupied by Morgan Furniture, one of my Buying Group members.

Wayne and Sydney once lived next door to the new Jacob Myers location. As a teenager, Wayne swam in the picturesque waterfront that we enjoyed viewing from our outdoor patio table.

Wayne and Sydney, longtime area tennis players, have recently been mixed-doubles tennis participants in the National Senior Olympics in San Francisco and Houston, Texas, placing third and sixth in the U.S.

Jacob Myers extensive menu offers hot and cold gourmét sandwiches with specialties like the Elvis — peanut butter and bananas sandwich grilled in butter, Memphis style. Plus soups, salads, desserts, homemade milkshakes, and a full espresso bar, with dressing and spreads made on site.

On this visit Wayne, ordered the Jacob Myers Reuben, described on the menu as “made the traditional way with a little twist making it a ‘Signature Sandwich.’ Corned beef, kraut, 1000 Island and Creole mustard are pilled high on marble rye bread.”

“It must weigh 3 pounds,” Wayne said as he put half of the sandwich in a carry-out box to take home for a later snack.

Sydney went for the lunch combo, choosing half of a “Bryan Special” sandwich, influenced by nearby Bryan College students. It’s made with turkey, Muenster cheese and garlic herb butter. She also had a half-cup of chicken Brunswick soup.

Carol selected another lunch combo of freshly prepared quiche made with tomatoes and onions.

“It has a bacon flavor,” she said, “although I can’t find any.”

She passed on soup as one of her side options, and enjoyed a small garden salad topped with made-on-site tarragon honey vinaigrette dressing.

I was intrigued by the “baker’s dozen” sandwich, described by the menu as “13 ingredients make up this sandwich. Black Forest ham, turkey, Italian roast beef, Genoa salami, Vermont yellow cheddar, Muenster, Swiss, French’s mustard, mayo, lettuce, tomato and wild onion,” plus bread, chips and a pickle spear.

Waiting until others at our table placed their orders I decided on a lunch combo of half a Pepperjack turkey sandwich and a half-cup of soup.

The sandwich was piled high with fresh cold turkey, topped with house-made Pepperjack spread (a spicy twist that can clear your sinuses), plus lettuce and a crunchy dill pickle spear. It was piled so high I couldn’t have eaten a whole sandwich.

After savoring my cheesy potato soup, I was tempted to ask for a large carry-out container of the soup to take home for a later treat.

Made-on-site soups change daily.

Dayton residents Steve and Sarah Hardiman are regulars at Jacob Myers. Steve is assistant manager at Lowe’s in Crossville, and Sarah operates the Ellah Gallery frame shop, inside the Gathering Place on Market Street in downtown Dayton.

On the day of our visit, Steve had the Reuben. He said he previously had tried and enjoyed almost all of the wraps.

Sarah had a wrap of turkey, bacon, Provolone cheese, Romaine lettuce and tomato with made-on-site Jacob Myers kettle chips.

Their guest, Alan Rioux of Kansas City, had the special of the day: open-face roast beef sandwich, mashed potatoes with gravy and corn.

When I visited their table, they were sharing a massive dessert serving of moist pumpkin roll with cream cheese.

As you enter the restaurant, a large glass case on the right displays a tremendous selection of desserts. Had I noticed it when we entered, I might have ordered my dessert first.

After talking with other folks in the restaurant, I wandered back to our table and discovered we were sharing a “chocolate thing” dessert our server, Jessica Trotter, brought us with four forks.

Carol was told it had a shortbread crust, filled with cream cheese, layered with chocolate pudding, topped with whipped cream and garnished with slivers of chocolate.

“If you’re a ‘chocoholic,’ this ‘chocolate thing’ might send you to Heaven ahead of schedule,” another customer reported online.

“It’s smooth and good,” Wayne said.

Sydney spied a “Buckeye” dessert in the display case on our way out and ordered one to take home. I was told it’s chocolate, covered with peanut butter. Maybe Wayne will share some of his carry-out sandwich for a taste of the “Buckeye.”

Restaurant co-owners Lance Sholl, his wife Stacey and Kevin Sholl relocated Jacob Myers Deli from downtown Market Street to this location in September 2010.

“On Market Street, every day we had customers that had to leave because there were no place to sit,” Kevin Sholl said. “Space was the main reason for moving.”

Jacob Myers Restaurant on the River is now at 185 Chickamauga Drive in Dayton. (423) 570-0023. Go to www.jacobmyersrestaurant.com for a menu. (Desserts change daily and are not included).

Jamie Bell, general manager, said the restaurant can seat 100 people, including the outdoor patio, offers free Wi-Fi service, and has a full service bar.

The restaurant is closed on Mondays. It’s open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Matt Stubblefield and wife, Val, live in Soddy-Daisy, and are repeat customers of Jacob Myers. Matt works at TenCate in Dayton, a synthetic grass manufacturer (football fields); Val works for Invista, a local textile fiber manufacturer.

Matt says he normally has the black forest ham and Swiss cheese sandwich. On the day of our visit, he had a Black Angus cheeseburger. I didn’t see whether he chose chips or fries.

Val went for the combo of half a creamy Vermont cheddar and Munster cheese sandwich on toasted white bread and a half-cup of tomato dill soup.

The menu describes the “Leslie Special,” as “turkey, roast beef, Muenster cheese, garlic butter, mayo, French’s mustard, Thousand Island, lettuce and tomato piled high to complete this beast.”

Norm and Carol Ritter retired to Dayton five years ago from Florida. They say they usually order the “Leslie Special” with fries, on their many visits to Jacob Myers.

On their lunch break from Best Realty in Dayton were Brenda Graham and Virginia McKinney. They both had their favorite, Santa Fe chicken wrap, made with “seasoned grilled chicken, shredded cheese, romaine lettuce and tomato.”

Brenda had fries, and Virginia’s choice was chips. Both left with a box of leftovers.

Jacob Myers is not visible from the main roads. From Roane County, travel south on Hwy. 27 to Dayton, and bear left on the bypass. Turn left on Chickamauga Drive, which 0.1 mile past Hwy. 30 at the light.

Wayne called his childhood friend, longtime Dayton City Manager Frank Welch, hoping he could join us. Frank arrived just as we were heading for the car. He and Wayne got to share a few memories, but Wayne and Sydney did not offer to share their carryouts.

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Bethel Poston is a Roane County businessman and entrepreneur who writes about places of interest in our area. E-mail suggestions and comments to postonplace@bellsouth.net.