By Leslie LaChance
Though the atmosphere of Just Divine Tea Room is country-casual, visitors might be inspired to wear their Sunday best when stopping by for a weekday lunch. That’s because the eatery makes its home in the former Hale’s Point Baptist Church. But no matter how they dress, customers will find themselves singing the praises of the tasty, home-style fare.
In 1998, Charlene Roberts spotted a vacant country church while checking crops on the family farm with her husband, Ronnie. They bought the 50-year-old clapboard building and moved it to its current location at Charlene’s Colony of Shoppes on Highway 88, where it joined a thriving group of quaint boutiques.
Charlene’s Colony of Shops video courtesy of Tennessee Crossroads
After a year of renovation, the former church sanctuary was transformed into the main dining room, a cheerful space painted yellow with white wainscoting accents. The walls are covered with eye-catching décor – an antique lamp, a landscape print, blue-and-white china, a ceramic rooster – all for sale, part of Roberts’ inventory from her home furnishings store.
The smaller former Sunday school rooms, called the Blue Toile and the Green and White rooms, are designed for more intimate dining. A one-room house relocated by the Roberts now serves as a larger formal dining room. Adorned in rich reds and earthy browns, it’s perfect for large groups and private parties.
The loving attention to detail in the décor carries over into the food. Just Divine’s simple menu features gourmet deli sandwiches and salads, such as the zingy mandarin orange salad with honey-pecan dressing, as well as daily specials, like the creamy pesto pasta with grilled chicken or shrimp. For a new twist on an old Southern favorite, try the orange-scented cornbread or the garlic-cheddar biscuits.
The restaurant’s fabulous chicken salad, which began as one of Charlene’s recipe improvisations, has become something of a local legend. Folks order it for sandwiches, and they take it home by the pint. No wonder; it’s made daily from fresh chicken breast (no canned meat here), red seedless grapes, chopped red and green bell peppers, almonds, and a light honey-mustard-and-mayo dressing.
Don’t miss homemade scrumptious sweets like chocolate cobbler, hot-fudge cake, apple dumplings or the decadent four-layer dessert, built on a base of pecan shortbread covered in chocolate pudding and cream-cheese whipped topping, drizzled with chocolate syrup and sprinkled with toasted pecans. It’s heavenly.
The Dish on Just Divine Tea Room
Throughout the year, our team travels the state in search of good food and friendly service. In each issue, we feature one of Tennessee’s best eateries, and in our opinion, the best dishes to try.
Just Divine Tea Room, located at 2257 Highway 88 W. in Halls, just south of Dyersburg, is open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dessert is served until 3 p.m. Just Divine can also be reserved in the evenings for private gatherings. Call Pam Davis at 731-836-6113 or visit Just Divine online for more information.