Buford’s Restaurant honors past mountain residents while serving up great food
Delicious food, an inviting atmosphere, and memories of beloved mountaineers welcomed hungry diners to the grand opening of Buford’s Restaurant on Friday. Owned by Clay Newsome, the new restaurant is named in honor of his late father, Buford Newsome, and the décor features memorabilia from the elder Newsome’s life on the mountain.
“I got my first job when I was 11 years old, working for Billy Joe Lockhart,” says Newsome. He paid me 50 cents per hour to sweep the parking lot, wash dishes, and bus tables. I always wanted to open a restaurant after that.”
Over the years, that dream never died, and Newsome decided to turn it into a reality at the beginning of this year.
“I decided to open a restaurant somewhere. I looked at a couple of sites. Something kept calling me home to Monteagle. When the opportunity came for me to use the old Dairy Queen building, I immediately thought of the Underhill family and how great it would be to try to honor Mr. Donnie and Miss Phoebe in some way.
“From the start, I also knew that I wanted to honor Billy Joe Lockhart and Miss Virginia for all that they had taught me over the years. I especially remember how well that he and Miss Virginia always worked together. In addition, who can open a restaurant in Monteagle without thinking of Miss Betty Ladd? Then I was blessed because God brought Miss Betty’s granddaughter my way, and now Jessica Ladd Cooke is the one who is responsible for the food!”
But, the story behind Buford’s would not be complete without honoring his father.
“I can’t tell the story without explaining how we named it Buford’s. When I brought my 11-year-old daughter and my 6-year-old son to see the building and to tell them that I wanted to open a restaurant, my daughter told me that we had to name it after “Pa Newsome.” She wanted to name it Buford’s.
“Immediately, it became a labor of love and something much great than myself. My dad loved The Four Seasons Restaurant in Sewanee. He loved any good buffet. He also loved any place that would honor educators and military personnel for their service. Thus the reason for the name, the buffet and food bars with country cooking, the discounts for educators and military, and for so many local legends that we strive to honor,” explained Newsome.
Getting the restaurant ready for opening weekend brought together many old friends.
Bob Beaulieu, a Marine with Newsome’s father in Vietnam, called after the memorial service for Buford and wanted to honor him by helping get the restaurant ready.
“Bob was here for three weeks. He did all of the renovations and carpentry work. He did all of the painting and trim work. He fixed and repairs many things.
“Bob and I have cried together and talked about my dad daily. He and I have put blood, sweat, and tears into our equity and work. He wouldn’t let me pay him a dime,” explained Newsome.
Folks in Monteagle also turned out to help.
“Louie Ladd, Fred Ladd, Felicia, and Ted. The Ladd family grandchildren have pitched right in and helped. JB comes by every morning to check on me. Willie and Jojo make sure that our cooking is just right. Marilyn Rodman welcomed us in the town with opened arms and has been so supportive.
“The local police and Marion County Sheriff and Grundy County Sheriff offices have been so supportive. Even a host of state troopers came thru on Bonnaroo weekend and wanted to pitch in and promised to eat here next year!”
The restaurant, currently open Friday through Sunday, is hoping to expand its hours after the success of its opening weekend during which patrons enjoyed seafood, catfish, fried chicken, meatloaf, and a large variety of home cooked vegetables.