Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 70

F L AV O R S

SOUP BEANS AND EMU BURGERS

Tradition and Change Mingle
at the Hob-Nob
This Southwest Virginia institution has been serving up
unpretentious, filling fare since the year Dwight D. Eisenhower
was elected President of the United States.
Text and photos FRED & JILL SAUCEMAN

LEFT: Hob-Nob manager
Devonne Thacker balances
a Monster Cone.
BELOW: At the HobNob, the emu burger is a
heart-healthy alternative to
ground beef.
FACING PAGE: The
Hob-Nob neon sign is over
60 years old.

70

BLUERIDGECOUNTRY.COM

B

ent and Elgie Strong lacked a name for their
new restaurant just outside Gate City in
Southwest Virginia. In 1952, a stonemason
was laying block around the perimeter of the
original building. When he learned that the
Strongs were planning an eatery, he made an
off-handed comment.
"You're going to have a hob nob of a time," the
stonemason said. Bent Strong stopped in his tracks. It was
the perfect name, and the business has been known as the
Hob-Nob Drive-In ever since.
"It's a great source of satisfaction to me to know that
what my grandparents created is still living on," says current owner Ross Jenkins.
"Goodness sakes, there's a face from the past," exclaims Ross in the midst of our interview. Residents from
a Kingsport assisted-living facility had chosen the restaurant for their weekly outing.
The Hob-Nob is one of Scott County's most beloved
places. The menu is largely unchanged from the days
when the Strongs were in charge. Diners come here for all
manner of hamburger variations, for hot dogs, for soup
beans, for banana splits and milkshakes.
Bent Strong had worked for the Kingsport Press, across
the state line in Tennessee, printing books and magazines. His grandson says Bent wanted something other
than a 9-to-5 job, so he gave up his position in industry
and started selling hamburgers.
"My grandparents loved to work," Ross tells us. "And
they loved people." Although Bent's weekly working
hours doubled, he had found his calling, at a place with
three booths and seven stools.
Grandson Ross Jenkins has a similar story. He gave up
a corporate position with the J.C. Penney Company 37


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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019

Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 5
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 6
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 7
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 8
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Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - Cover4
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