December 14, 2009

At Home in the South

As many of you know or have learned through reading my blog, I grew up in a little town near Chattanooga, TN, and lived there until about three years ago when we moved to Montana. As much as I love Montana, I do miss my family in Tennessee, and so we take any opportunity we get to go see them.
As luck would have it, when we delivered our load in Columbia, SC there wasn't anything close by to reload. I said "as luck would have it" but I didn't specify if that was good luck or bad. I suppose it could be considered either in this case, because on the bad luck side we had to drive all the way to Memphis to reload. On the good luck side, that Memphis load didn't pickup till Monday morning, and so we spent the entire weekend at home in the South.
We enjoyed the weekend so much. Mostly we just relaxed, caught up on sleep, and spent some much needed quality time with family. Saturday morning, Malcolm drove to the other side of Chattanooga and spent the day with his aunt and uncle and his cousin came over too. They spent the entire day, till late that night, just having fun together.
While he was over there, I stayed at home with Mom. I wanted to visit Malcolm's family too, but just felt a need to chill at Mom's house. So, Sharon and Micheal, I'll see you in a few weeks when we come back for Christmas, and I'm sorry I missed you this time. I'll make sure to bring the girls along too, so you can meet them.
Mom and I watched Food Network, sipped coffee, and went to my Dad's restaurant for lunch...and dinner. (more on this in a bit) I also made my way down to my grandparents, who live next door to my parents, and visited with them for a while. Grandma just got the cutest chicken house, and I have serious chicken house envy. Wish I'd carried my camera with me when I went down there so I'd have had a picture for you (and me).
Sunday was another day of relaxing, and visiting. We just kicked back all morning, and then met my brother and his wife and daughter at my family's traditional Sunday lunch spot. We had a blast visiting, and laughing and Bentlee, my niece who is 5, had us all involved in a guessing game. Afterwards, it was more relaxing at Mom and Dad's by the fire, and then they dropped us off at the truck on their way to Bentlee's Christmas program at church. I really wish we could have stayed for it, but Memphis was a ways to drive, and we were still tired from last week.
It was a good visit, and what makes it even better is knowing we'll be back in two weeks for Christmas.
Every time we go down to visit family, we start wishing we lived down there. Then as soon as we get back to Montana, we are perfectly happy and can't think of leaving. Its very frustrating wanting to be in two places and knowing its not possible.
Back to Dad's restaurant:
My Dad has a barbeque restaurant. Its been in our family since 1946 when my great-aunt and uncle opened it in its present location, and named it Couch's BBQ (that being their last name).

Uncle Will and Aunt Agnes
Couch's BBQ in its original form.

It was a family run business, and often had family employees. My granny worked there from before I was born, till she wasn't able to work anymore.

My granny, Jessie Stiner, hard at work in the kitchen at Couch's BBQ!

Dad spent a lot of time there too...

(one of my favorite pictures...Dad sitting at the counter. By the way, this counter still presides over the place in almost the same location...and I remember those floor tiles which didn't change till Dad remodeled several years ago.)

Dad worked for Will and Agnes through high school, and later bought the place from his aunt and uncle. A number of years ago, the building was remodeled, enlarged a bit, and a new updated kitchen installed.

But its still the small, family run business that its always been, with my Dad now at the helm, and my brother acting as assistant manager. And though new customers have found their way to its doors, there are still a lot of customers that have been coming here for decades. The restaurant is kind of hidden on the old highway that traveled from Cleveland, TN to Chattanooga. Before the interstate changed things, this was the route everyone traveled. Now its just a side road, and unless your lost or coming here specifically, as many do, you probably wouldn't ever find it. (see our truck and trailer in the background. Just enough room for us to squeeze in.)

There's a new extended menu, with more to appeal to the masses, but the traditional stuff is still the most popular. Its what people come for miles to get. There have even been some who have called from California and other locals wanting it shipped to them to satisfy their cravings.

My personal favorite....a BBQ sandwich with cole slaw.

Yummy....I'm getting hungry just looking at it!

I worked here in high school and college. It was a great place to spend my time, to learn responsibility, and I had a great boss too!

I always follow the sandwich up with a piece of pie. Dad makes the pies himself. Its a hard choice between coconut cream, or chocolate cream. This time Mom and I were going to split a piece of chocolate. I made the mistake of going to take a few pictures before the pie came, and when I returned, Mom told me I better order my own piece. She'd almost finished our "shared" piece. No problem...I wanted a whole one anyway.

In my excitement, I forgot to get a picture before I started eating it. Sorry for the missing bites! Up till a few years ago, all Dad's coke products were served in a bottle. They installed the machine for fountain drinks a few years ago, but they still order enough bottled drinks for those who might want one for old times sake.

We returned for dinner that night at which point I enjoyed a BBQ stuffed baked potato, a popular menu item that was laughingly named the "couch potato." I left the camera at home though, so you'll have to use your imagination. And, I'll guiltily admit, I took a piece of coconut cream pie home to enjoy later that evening. I know...two pieces of pie and its not even Christmas. But I only get this stuff a handful of times out of the year now! I have to stock up!

If your in the area I encourage you to look them up. Its well worth it. I know my opinion is biased, so do me and my Dad a favor. Stop somewhere in Cleveland or Ooltewah and ask if its worth going to. Chances are the person will know about Couch's and give you a raving revue. Its a little out of route, but well worth the extra miles and minutes.

Couch's BBQ is at

8307 Old Lee Highway in Ooltewah, TN


And this is totally unrelated, but too cute not to share. Sunday afternoon Dad thought he'd sit by the fire and enjoy a Little Debbie. He was suddenly the most popular person in the house!

Sorry Dad! They do love you for more than just your food! I promise!


small farm girl said...

It's nice to visit with family. I'm glad you had the time to do it. The sandwich looks wonderful. Great, now I'm hungry.

Guys be safe,

Sari said...

Loved reading your blog, Sarah! And thank you for sharing Malcolm with us on Saturday. We had SO much fun! ! The guys just laughed and laughed. It was such a delight! Yes, we wish you were closer! and we ALSO understand the mixed emotions. . . Every time I go west, I wish I still lived there! It is SUCH beautiful country! Family is such a treasure - with many heart tugs! We look forward to seeing you soon, Sarah! We love you!

Meagan said...

LOVE this post! I can't wait to get there over the break and to see you! Hate that I missed you this time - truly! LOVE YOU!

Anonymous said...

It's 8:05 am and I'm wanting a sandwich from your Dad's. Wish I was in Tennessee right now.

So happy that you got to visit your family.

Stay safe on the roads.


The Carter Family said...

We love couch's! Yummy yummy-good high school memories!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Now, why would he eat a Little Debbie when he has those amazing pies to eat? gah!
I love chocolate cream pie and coconut cream, too. Lucky you to have such a special, restaurant in your family with so much history. Mmmm....BBQ with coleslaw. I am so hungry right now!


Netta said...

I just got around to exploring more of your blog posts. I love reading them! It's nice to run across someone who cherishes their Christmas ornaments as much as I do. They are milestone markers in my life. I do hope that my children don't have a yard sale and sell them for $.25 ea. when I die! I'm sure I have thousands invested in them by now. I buy them from every new place we visit and to mark family or personal passages/events.

I relish the memory behind each one as I hang it on the tree every year. I still hang the paper package decorations on pipe cleaners that we hung our first year of marriage (41.5 yrs ago) because we could'nt afford to buy real ornaments. Bottlecap ornaments and salt dough ornaments that the boys made as children are some of my favorites, along with so many handmade ornaments crafted lovingly by my former students.

Thanks for sharing yours with your readers!

Netta said...

We have found NO other BBQ as good as Couch's! We've tried it everywhere (one of Larry's favorite foods). Anytime I want to serve it to a crowd in my home, I go to your dad's restaurant. I can always be assured that it will not have a bunch of grissle (sp??) or fat in it! Yum!!