Family: Married to Carol Ann Vaughan and they have three children, Annie, 17, Ben, 14, and Nate, 7.
Occupation: Owner/operator of Foothills Milling Co.
Tommy Vaughan grew up in Memphis and moved to East Tennessee in 2001 with his wife and children and his brother and sister-in-law, Bart and Whitney Vaughan, to start the Foothills Milling Co. restaurant in Wears Valley.
“East Tennessee had been our favorite place to visit in Tennessee with all the natural beauty. We thought if we wanted to open a restaurant, why not come to God’s Country? The mountains are here. We really felt we could open a restaurant anywhere, but East Tennessee made sense to us,” he said.
After a couple of years operating a restaurant in Wears Valley, they realized that, apart from seasonal traffic, much of their clientele was coming from Knox and Blount Counties. They opted to relocated.
“Really the first, only and last place we thought of was Blount County. So much of our traffic was coming from Blount County or people from Knoxville who were coming through Blount County to get to us,” he says. “We chose Maryville because of its central location.”
Vaughan says they still get a lot of tourist traffic. “We get people who will backtrack. If you get someone who will backtrack, you need to take great care of them,” he says.
Local celebrities like actor David Keith, coach Phillip Fulmer, coach Bruce Pearl and former “Voice of the Vols” John Ward eat at Foothills Milling Co., but Vaughan said the most gratifying thing about the business is the relationships he’s formed with customers.
“We’ve gotten to know some of them well. Some of these friends I hike with and some I fish with, and I think the gratifying thing is the people and relationships we’ve been able to develop over the years,” he says.
Here is Tommy Vaughan:
Who are you most like, your mom or dad, and why?
“I’m like both equally. I have some strong likenesses of both my parents.”
What is your favorite quote from television or a movie?
The exchange between the characters played by Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise in “A Few Good Men.”
What is your favorite material possession?
“My 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Initially my buddy’s wife owned it, and he took care of it. It’s almost got 200,000 miles, but the way it was taken care of, it doesn’t seem like it.”
What are you reading currently?
‘”Hiking Trails of the Smokies.’ My goal this calendar year is to take 75 hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains to celebrate the park’s 75 years. I’ve hiked with different friends, including friends and people from the restaurant. I’ve been on 70 hikes to date. I’m constantly picking up that little brown book and looking for another hike. I haven’t hiked 70 different trails, but I’ve taken 70 hikes. Some trails I liked so much, I go back to them, but I’m constantly looking for something new.”
Who has been the most influential person in the 20th century?
“Elvis. I grew up in Memphis, so, locally, he is just on another level. I think what he did in the music business at the time was amazing. I was at the end of his deal, but my mom and all her friends and my grandmother had all his albums. His reputation and everything about him was bigger than life, especially in the area where I grew up. He changed what Rock-n-Roll was..”
If you only had a week to live, what would you do and why?
“Hike with my wife and kids in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is such a great place to be with people you really love and care about. When you walk into the park, it’s almost like therapy. I get out of the car and hit the trail and everything gets left at the trailhead. The physical exercise is good, but the emotional and spiritual cleansing is for real. I go there for a lot of reasons, but really just to enjoy life and celebrate it.”
What is one word others often use to describe you and why?
“Happy-go-lucky. This isn’t necessarily a good trait. I’m not really concerned about what happens in the future, I’m here today, trying to get through things on my agenda. That doesn’t mean I never plan anything, but I’m pretty happy-go-lucky.”
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
“My height. I just want to go up 3 or 4 inches taller. I’m tired of stepping on the back of my pants.”
What is your passion?
“Hiking and fishing.”
With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?
“My grandfathers on both sides of my family. Nelson Vaughan died when I was 10. I got to know Ed Wilbanks better, because I was almost a grown man, probably closer to 30, when he passed away. I’d just like to spend time with those guys and have a long lunch and get them to tell me about my parents. I need to find out what my parents were doing as kids. I need ‘ammo.’”
If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you visit?
“I’d go back to when I was 11 years old in 1977. I got lost at Disney World at the Bicentennial Parade. I’d like to go back to that time. You didn’t have cares, and we really enjoyed life. As a kid I enjoyed that whole atmosphere. I’d like to go back and see if I retraced my steps I could figure how I got lost. It didn’t last long because the people at Disney were good, and they were able to contact my parents. At that time in my life it was tragic, but I was only lost 20 minutes.”
What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?
“Keep on keeping on.”
In the workplace, would you rather be powerful or popular?
“Popular. I think the people I’m working with, if they like me, they’re going to work harder, and we’re going to work harder with each other than if they see me as power guy and a dictator.”
Who is your hero?
“Galen Johnson, the Porter High School basketball coach and administrator. He is a great man. I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time with him. I’ve only met him personally twice, but the meetings were long enough that we got to talk. The reason he’s my hero is also because I’m a basketball fanatic. I love the sport as far as watching it and admire what he was able to teach in basketball and what he accomplished with those girls, especially winning state championships with girls before classification. He was all about fun and all about discipline. They were going to have a good time, and they were going to be disciplined. As such much as he was there to play a game it was serious business to him. He won 82 percent of his games.”
Do you Myspace, Facebook or Twitter?
Are you a cat person or a dog person?
“I’ve got a big dog, Raleigh, a yellow lab.”
What’s the worst job you have ever had?
“Telemarketing. Cold calling and selling minor league baseball season tickets to the Memphis Smokies.”
What is your theme song that best describes you?