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Out to Lunch: You'll want to gobble up the goodies at Owen's

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By Bethel Poston, For Roane Newspapers

When Rockwood attorney Floyd Hutcherson invited my wife, Carol, and me to a surprise birthday party for his wife, Melba, I had no idea who would be attending.

Charles and Lillian Stringer, who live in Anglers Cove outside of Kingston, were longtime customers of ours at Poston Furniture. I enjoyed visiting with Lillian at the party, and when she suggested I go “Out To Lunch” at Owen’s Turkey Restaurant in Knoxville, I added it to my list.

I suggested we eat there after Carol recently visited Knoxville Orthopedic Clinic to get her second fiberglass cast for her torn Achilles tendon.

If you exit off Pellissippi Parkway heading west on Kingston Pike, Owen’s is on the left just past
Bill Jones Music in the corner of Lovell Heights Center.

As we entered, I thought I’d met the lady sitting near the door. By the time I approached her table and introduced myself, I remembered her name was Nancy, and she had recently injected my hip with WD40 (a medical steroid) at the same clinic we had just left.

Nancy Dusek, a nurse practitioner, is a regular at Owen’s and was having turkey noodle casserole, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.

“All their dishes are fantastic, and my husband loves the turkey salad,” she said. “I even have them prepare my Thanksgiving dinner.”

“Specializing in fresh oven-roasted turkey
and chicken” is emblazoned on the menus at Owen’s.

Carol had told me in the car that she was going to have chicken and dumplings. She added sweet potato casserole — and I think everything comes with cranberry sauce.

That left me to take on the signature sandwich — The Gobbler, also referred to as “Thanksgiving on a Bun.”

It’s made with fresh roasted turkey and dressing, cranberry sauce, lettuce, mayo and served on a Kaiser roll.

I could only “gobble” half my sandwich, but as you know, I like leftovers. If I had studied the menu better, I would have learned I could have ordered a mini-gobbler.

There were also pickles on my plate. As my side dish, I chose mixed squash, zucchini and onions cooked with a special seasoning.

Other sides available are a well-seasoned dressing made with bread (not cornbread), fruit cup, cottage cheese, cole slaw, applesauce, potato chips and vegetable of the day.

Fran and Jim Owen are partners in the restaurant. Jim began his turkey-roasting education in 1963 and started serving secret-recipe dinners at the 10420 Kingston Pike location three and a half years ago.

Dr. George Brown, a veterinarian at Farragut Animal Clinic, was taking a turkey salad sandwich and a dish of sweet potato casserole back to his office.

“You want your regular order?” Fran asked as George approached the counter to order and pay.

All the customers call Fran and Jim by name, and the Owens greeted customers by their first names. It’s a place, it seems, where “everybody knows your name.”

Before we left, most of the customers were calling us Bethel and Carol, like we had been accepted as part of the family.

Jerry and Carolyn McMurry, retired postal service employees, both enjoyed large servings of hot open-faced turkey sandwiches served with gravy and dressing.

Their other favorites are chicken salad and turkey salad sandwiches, turkey pot pie and the mini-gobbler sandwich.

“We regularly take Owen’s turkey dishes to my mother, who lives in Oak Ridge,” Jerry said.

The restaurant can seat 40 customers. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Thursday; from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday; from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays.

Jim told me he roasted more than  100 turkeys last year for customers to take home and serve, along with their choice of sides, for each family’s Thanksgiving dinner.

Owen’s also served dinner last Thanksgiving to a crowd of reservations-only seating. Off to Grandma’s house we go — only if you have reserved a seat.  

Check the website, owensturkeyrestaurant.com, for a complete menu, or call 694-7733 for additional information.

In addition to homemade quiche pies; turkey or chicken soup; and peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches for children, the menu also offers a hot open beef meatloaf plate.

Once again, if I want to try Owen’s turkey dog, I’ll have to get a youngster to order it for me from the children’s menu.

Due to the generous servings, I was going to pass on the baked-on-site pies, cookies and brownies — until I returned to our table and found a large slice of cherry pie (Carol’s favorite) and two forks. Of course, I had to eat my share.

You’ll find turkey and chicken salad on the menu, along with “Tur-ken” salad. Fran says the mixture of turkey and chicken has a sweeter taste.

Dr. Reuben Pelot, his wife, Barbara, and their daughter, Laurie Gooch, looked as if they all were really enjoying their turkey noodle casseroles.

Pelot has a dental office in Village Green Center near Fresh Market, and the couple’s daughter works as a receptionist there. Barbara Pelot is a former Knoxville City Council member.

Donna Maloney, an administrative assistant at Morning Point Assisted Living in Lenoir City, was having a turkey sandwich on wheat bread and taking home a stuffed chicken breast to her husband.

I later found out that her daughter, Delores Yonush, was our server.

A gentleman seated at a nearby table told Carol his 4-year old daughter, Olivia, woke up one morning and before she got out of bed asked, “When are we going to the Turkey Restaurant again?”

That gal needs to do a TV spot for Owen’s.

The day I began writing this article I received an e-mail from Chris Harbaugh.

“I never miss one of your reviews in the Roane County News,” the e-mail said. “I retired down here from Michigan, and you have led me to some of the best restaurants in East Tennessee.”

It continued, “I'd like to recommend one I’ve found. Since Thanksgiving is fast approaching, I thought you might like to visit a ‘Turkey Restaurant.’ Colorful turkeys standing by the front door, ‘Gabby’ and ‘Tom T.,’ greet you. When you enter, you think you entered your grandmother's kitchen on Thanksgiving morning. Hope to see your review of one of Knoxville’s little-known treasures.”

“Out To Lunch” scouts and encouragement like this gives me almost as much enjoyment as the food we eat.

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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.