Story and photos by Christian McKinney
For Blount Today
The spicy smelling smoke wafting down Foothills Mall Drive is enticing more and more motorists off the road and into one of the newest restaurants in town.
Rusty and Angie Buchanan and Tim Collins recently opened Tailgate Grille in the former building where Schlotzsky's Deli stood, near Foothills Mall. The trio say they are working to bring a new and exciting dining experience to Blount County. Proof of that is in the working smoker situated beside the front door.
Designed with the sports fan in mind, this restaurant offers smoked barbecue and all kinds of food fresh off the grill - just like tailgating at a favorite sports event. Eight appetizers grace the menu, sharing space with the hamburgers, which are made from 100 percent Black Angus beef.
The main feature is smoked barbecue, and the smoking is done on site. Everything at Tailgate Grille is grilled. Nothing is fried. Even their potatoes and fries are oven-baked. The Tailgate Grille also offers a variety of catering opportunities for the public. They will bring their smoker to a catered event when it is wanted, giving the owners access to space that will accommodate up to 300 pounds of meat.
Response, says Rusty, has been positive. “People say I have the best barbecue in town because I take the time to do it myself. They love our smoker,” he said.
For sports the Tailgate Grille covers all the bases with over one thousand channels on flat screen TV’s and all the sports television packages. Rusty Buchanan said he wants the restaurant to become a hot spot for post-game gatherings.
Inside, the restaurant has 2,500 square feet of space - 1,500 of which is in the kitchen. Rusty Buchanan said he wants to stay away from franchising, but isn’t opposed to opening up other restaurants in the area
Not far from The Dragon’s Tail on U.S. Hwy. 129, the Tailgate Grille is “biker friendly,” and hopes to soon have “biker nights” for those who ride. For those who like to live on the wild side, the restaurant offers a variety of hot wings featuring their very own “Dragon’s Breath” hot sauce, Rusty Buchanan said.
The Tailgate Grille offers all-you-can-eat ribs on Tuesdays and all-you-can-eat shrimp on Wednesdays. When asked about their hours of operation, Rusty said he never likes to put a time on when the restaurant is open or closed, but the hours will generally be weekdays from 10:30a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and 10:30 a.m. to midnight on Saturdays.
The Tailgate Grille is located at 836 Foothills Mall Dr. Maryville, and can be reached at 865-982-4765.