By Carol Cowan
Terri Gang says her favorite thing about owning the Red Rooster in Ethridge is getting to meet people from all over the world who happen into her restaurant when they come to tour the nearby Amish community. She loves introducing her international guests to authentic Southern home cooking and hospitality – and earning their raves.
The quintessential meat-and-three serves up generous portions of food from a steaming hot bar in its quaint and welcoming farmhouse-style dining room. On any given day, Red Rooster’s array of meats might include Southern staples such as fried chicken, meatloaf and pot roast, with fried catfish served every Friday. More than a dozen vegetable choices each day feature favorites such as turnip greens, fresh squash casserole, green beans and loaded potato casserole. Every plate comes with a choice of fresh-baked breads, and drinks are served in canning jars.
And then there’s dessert – strawberry cake warm from the oven, homemade blackberry cobbler with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, chocolate cream pie and more.
The Red Rooster’s everyday menu rivals a Sunday dinner at Grandma’s, perhaps because many of Gang’s recipes came from hers.
“Everybody loves our fried chicken, and my meatloaf – it’s a family recipe, my grandmother’s secret recipe. Our peanut butter cake is out of this world – my grandmother’s recipe,” Gang says. “Most everything that we cook has been a recipe from one of our families, or one that we’ve made up.”
For example, oatmeal fried in butter and brown sugar forms the melt-in-your-mouth breading atop the blackberry cobbler. “One day I just said, ‘Let’s do something different,’ and it worked out,” Gang says.
Small wonder, since she has been cooking all her life. Having gained commercial experience catering events during the annual Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration in Shelbyville, Gang and her husband opened the Red Rooster in June 2011. Two of their four grown children help wait tables and do chores.
The restaurant, which seats about 80 people, is located directly behind the Amish Welcome Center on Highway 43, a popular tour bus destination, and a lot of folks want to know about the Amish connection.
“We have a farm right in the middle of the Amish [community],” Gang says. “We get as much produce as we can from them. Whatever’s in season – tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, fresh corn, beans, peppers – we use. They are what draw people to us; if it weren’t for the Amish, we wouldn’t have a business.”
The Dish on the Red Rooster
Address: 4001 Highway 43 North, Ethridge, TN 38456 (Behind the Amish Welcome Center)
Phone: (931) 829-1113
Hours of operation: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily, seven days a week
Price range: $5.99 to $7.99 for meal; $2.99 to $3.79 for dessert
For groups of 10 or more, please call ahead for reservations.
Red Rooster also offers catering.