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Sunday Stories

East Side Grill set to open later this month in Rogersville

May 21st, 2012 12:56 pm by Marsha Salley

Jackie Kenner walks around the as-yet-unfurnished East Side Grill in Rogersville with a great sense of satisfaction.  And while she may be very thrilled with the restaurant, which is nearing its opening in a few weeks, there is little time for self-relection. She is too busy, answering construction workers' questions, choosing furnishings, taking calls - all of which she balances with school picnics and dentist appointments and a blown engine in her teenager's car.

Kenner is a widow, a single mother of five (including a 3-year-old and a teenager), a grandmother and, most recently, the proud owner of a new restaurant.

"We hope to be open by the end of May," the youthful Kenner says. "East Side Grill will feature home cooking. Everything from scratch, no frozen meats, everything fresh."

When she says everything, she means everything. The menu will include pasta, seafood, steaks, hamburgers, several kinds of salads, as well as breakfast all day with the usual waffles, pancakes, biscuits, omelets... and a full Sunday buffet. After some moments pondering, she decides that the barbecue ribs will probably become their specialty.

"I make my own sauce (of course) and the meat just falls off the bone," she said.

As the owner, Jackie will be responsible for each patron's full-dining experience and that means a lot hands-on work, including being one of the several cooks in the kitchen. Cooking is why Kenner wanted to own a restaurant in the first place.

"I love to cook. I had three brothers, so my mother taught me a lot about cooking. I have worked in school kitchens, steak houses and nursing homes, to name a few. I always wanted my own place and this is a dream come true for me. I like the personal experience of waiting on customers and take a lot of pride in making sure the customer is satisfied... Owning your own place gives you satisfaction and confidence you don't get when you work for someone else," Kenner said.

"I know with God's help this will be a huge success. Without Him, I wouldn't be doing it," she adds.

East Side Grill will not only accommodate families and small groups, but is large enough for groups. They will eventually be able to serve parties in their banquet room which will seat about 125 maximum. The main dining room is massive with wood floors, a cathedral ceiling and a large fireplace. Once completed the entire restaurant can hold 230 customers.

"Hawkins County deserves a place where [people] can bring their families and share a good meal. This will be that place," Kenner said.

East Side Grill is located at 400 Park Boulevard and will be open six days a week (with buffet only on Sunday). For more information or to reserve group seating, call Jackie Kenner at 423-272-1940.

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