Mama's House Buffet: Serving fresh new options and traditional favorites

Matthew Lane • May 15, 2018 at 4:30 PM

Mama’s House Buffet in Kingsport has hit two major milestones in the past 30 days. Owners Mike and Angela Vaughn have reached their second anniversary as the owners, and the restaurant is celebrating its 18th year in its current location.

The Vaughns would like to thank all of the great customers who have patronized Mama’s House all these years.

“It’s a great milestone,” Mike said. “There’s a stereotype about all-you-can-eat buffets that all of the food is fat-laden.”

That’s simply not the case with Mama’s House and here’s why.


Since the Vaughns purchased Mama’s House two years ago, the couple has made a number of changes and improvements to the food. They’re doing more from scratch cooking, they’ve switched to non-transfat oils, added new selections to the buffet (like Taco Tuesday) and make a point to follow the recipes every single day.

And folks coming to Mama’s House are noticing the difference!

“We’re starting to see a lot of first-time visits. They’ve heard about us and how the food has changed and gotten better,” Mike said. “And when we do different items, people get excited about it. It’s been met with a lot of good reception and feedback from our guests.”

But that doesn’t mean everything on the buffet has changed. There’s plenty of tried and true recipes on the menu, like the fried chicken, cole slaw, pickled beets and bread pudding. And the gravy, cooked every morning by Mike, is still his Nana’s recipe. “I used to watch her as a little boy when she made the gravy,” he said.

“We don’t have 150 menu items like some of the other folks in the area have, but what we do have is going to be really good. There’s plenty to eat on this bar,” he said. “A lot of places will compromise, but we just don’t do that. The reputation of Mama’s House in the community is just too important.”


Mike has been around food for 40 years. After graduating from Florida State University in 1983 with a business degree, he went to work for Houston’s Restaurants (now known as the Hillstone Restaurant Group). It’s there where Mike cut his teeth in the restaurant business and learned about quality cooking, tasting food and a commitment to consistency.

“I continue to drive that point to our people, using measures to follow the recipes so the guests have the same food every time they come in,” Mike said. “I’m very hands on because I was taught that a long time ago... I want to know what people are sinking their teeth into.”

The Vaughns have been married for 34 years and actually met in a restaurant in Atlanta – Mike was a manager and Angela a waitress. In the years to follow, the couple has worked at restaurants throughout the Southeast, even owning a couple in Charlotte and Asheville (131 Main).

Everything changed for the Vaughns a few years ago when the couple was up in Kingsport visiting family and learned that Mama’s House was for sale.


“We’re not newcomers to the area,” Angela said of her family’s long ties to our region. “My family has been here since the 1840s. I’m the seventh generation to live on the Stuffle family farm. I just don’t want people to think that someone from Florida moved here and bought the restaurant.”

That’s been one of the misconceptions the Vaughns have been working to overcome since purchasing Mama’s House two years ago. Assuring people of Angela’s deep roots to the Bloomingdale community, specifically Stuffle Heights where she grew up.

“I’ve lived here on and off as a kid, and I went to Cedar Grove for several grades and Ketron for my junior year of high school,” Angela said. Buying the restaurant was like coming home for her. “I like being back where my family roots are.”

Mama’s House Buffet is located at 2608 North John B Dennis Highway in Kingsport. They’re open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day except Wednesdays and Saturdays, when they open from 8 to 10:30 a.m. for breakfast. The restaurant offers daily discounts for seniors, military and children, and special discounts during the week for teachers, emergency responders and employees of Eastman and Domtar. They also offer a discount for church goers who bring in their church bulletin on Sundays or Wednesday nights.

“Compared to fast food restaurants that charge $10 or $11, you can come here, eat on china, have a salad with fresh vegetables, meats and desserts for less money,” Mike said. “And our price always includes a drink, too.”

Mike, Angela and the entire team look forward to the pleasure of serving you at Mama's House Buffet!

The restaurant has ample space for private meetings, parties and reunions and is currently featuring local musicians. Please call (423) 247-5691 for details.

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