Betty's Stockyard Cafe honored by Kingsport mayor

Matthew Lane • Aug 15, 2018 at 8:59 AM

KINGSPORT — The mayor of Kingsport really doesn’t have much power. He or she chairs the meetings, signs a lot of paperwork and gets heaps of criticism when things go wrong.

But one power the position does hold is the issuing of proclamations. And on Tuesday, Mayor John Clark issued a special one to Betty Jones, the owner of Betty’s Stockyard Cafe.

“I have an opportunity to recognize, thank and honor people who represent the Kingsport spirit, who do things and go beyond the call of duty to help folks improve their quality of life,” Clark said. “Betty Jones is an example of the Kingsport spirit.”

Mayor Clark and his wife, Etta, made a surprise visit to the cafe Tuesday morning to present Jones with a proclamation declaring Aug. 14 as “Betty’s Stockyard Cafe Day.”

Born in Virginia and moved to Kingsport at the age of 16, Jones and her husband started the Stockyard Cafe 26 years ago, and in that time, Clark said, she has constantly been contributing and caring for the Kingsport community.

Jones does meals on wheels on her own accord, has given away countless meals and allows customers to pay on an honor system, Clark said. Employees and customers are truly family, and if one of Jones’ regulars doesn’t show up, she’ll call to check on them. She’ll even take them a meal if needed, Clark said.

“She’s one of the most compassionate people in Kingsport, and I’m honored to present her this proclamation,” Clark said.

After a round of applause and some hearty hugs, Jones said she was surprised by the mayor’s visit.

“I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to get through the rest of the day. I’ve got a lot of cooking to do,” Jones said. “I should have known something was up when all these people kept hanging around.”

Jones went back to her cooking after the short presentation, her sister by her side and two of her granddaughters working the floor of the small, pictured-filled cafe full of many familiar faces. For Jones, her cafe is all about the people, most of whom she knows well.

“I know just about every customer who comes through the door,” she said. “I can cook their food without asking what they want because they’ve been coming here so long.”

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