Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 71

F L AV O R S

"... the secret to cooking an emu
burger is to do it slowly.
And put something over the top of
it so it'll stay juicy..."

years ago to take over his grandparents' restaurant. And he has never
regretted it.
When we ask Ross how he directs
people to the Hob-Nob, he answers,
"If you think you've gone too far,
you've probably got a little further
to go."
But the Strongs' choice of location was strategic. What is known today as the Daniel Boone Road was a
main thoroughfare linking the Midwest to the East. In the
Eisenhower era, new car sales were taking off in America.
"It was a heavily traveled road, with a constant stream
of traffic from Ohio and Kentucky and points west," says
Ross, who holds a business degree from Virginia's Emory
& Henry College.
But in 1967, a bypass opened through the county. "My
grandparents thought it was over for them," Ross says.
"Like so many places, when the four-lane goes around
you, you die off. But the new road actually made it easier
to get here."
Instead of folding, Bent and Elgie expanded the building just a few years after that bypass was constructed. Today, a full parking lot and full tables are the norm at the
Hob-Nob.
Just like his grandparents did, Ross sells chili-laden
hamburgers. "My grandfather, if he had a cheeseburger,
he had to have chili on the bottom. When we fix grilled
cheese sandwiches, we add chili."
One thing Bent and Elgie didn't serve, though, was
emu. It's nowhere close to rivaling all-beef hamburgers
in sales at the Hob-Nob, but it's a heart-healthy red meat

alternative, much lower in fat.
The source is Amaroo Hills, a farm in Cheatham County, Tennessee, west of Nashville. Amaroo co-owner Ngon
Nguyen says emu tastes similar to beef. "We've served
emu meat to cattle farmers who've stated that they cannot tell the difference in taste or texture with beef."
Hob-Nob manager Devonne Thacker has worked at
the restaurant for over three decades. She says the secret
to cooking an emu burger is to do it slowly. "And put
something over the top of it so it'll stay juicy," she adds.
A few minutes later, Thacker reappears at our table
with an architectural wonder, called a "Monster Cone."
Ross says a regular cone of soft-serve ice cream consists of
two and a half swirls and a large is five and a half. Testing
the limits of what a cone could hold, Hob-Nob employees
were managing seven or eight swirls. Now the Monster
Cone is on the menu and has become the main attraction
on the restaurant's social media sites.
Emu patties and Monster Cones aside, the offerings
at the Hob-Nob mainly speak of tradition. There's a big
pot of soup beans burbling on the stove about three days
a week.
The neon sign outside is a link to the past,
too. It was created over 60 years ago by the Rev.
Howard Todd of Scott County. When it needs
repair, Ross has to bring in an expert all the
way from Abingdon. And he proudly points
out that the sign is not LED and there is no
crawler. It looks just as it did when Bent and
Elgie Strong ran the place.
"Short Orders, Sandwiches,
Shakes, Sundaes," the sign proclaims. And we'd add another "S"
to the alliterative list: Smiles.
The Hob-Nob Drive-In
2256 Daniel Boone Road
Gate City, Virginia
276-452-4538
Fred and Jill Sauceman study and
celebrate the foodways of Appalachia
and the South from their home base in
Johnson City, Tennessee.

JULY/AUGUST 2019

71



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
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 10
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 12
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 13
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 14
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 15
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 16
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 17
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 18
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 19
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 20
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 22
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 23
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 24
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 25
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 26
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 27
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 28
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 34
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 36
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 37
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 38
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 39
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 40
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 41
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 42
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 43
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 44
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 45
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 46
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 47
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 48
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 49
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 50
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 51
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 52
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 53
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 54
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 55
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 56
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 57
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 58
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 59
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 60
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 61
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 62
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 63
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 64
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 65
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 66
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 67
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 68
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 69
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 70
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 71
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 72
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 73
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - 74
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2019 - Cover4
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