Local restaurants continue slowly reopening, but some holdouts remain this week

A worker at Shoney's in Clinton prepares to fill a customer's plate at the food bar. (photo:COURIER NEWS )
Although Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee allowed dine-in restaurants to begin reopening their dining rooms with restrictions last week, there seemed to be no rush for many of them to get back to business.

With some opening over several days last week, others have set later dates or were still unsure about when they might restart dining room service through Wednesday morning.

Some restaurants in the Clinton, Norris, Andersonville and Rocky Top areas that hadn’t opened by Monday said they still weren’t ready yet, and others were still not answering their phones and no contact information was available.

Several gave dates for when they planned to reopen, but a few said they were still unsure or confused about the restrictions or the safety of reopening, and declined to predict when that might start up again.

Among those that have reopened their dining rooms are Habaneros Mexican restaurant, Shoney’s, Waffle House, Jerry’s Market & Deli, and E. Claire’s Coffee House, all in Clinton, along with the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, The Vols Diner and La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant in Rocky Top; Gametime Pizza & Subs and Pizza Plus, both in Andersonville; and Calhoun’s, in north Oak Ridge.

Still undecided is Coal Creek Smokehouse in Rocky Top, whose dining room is undergoing renovation. The restaurant is open for takeout and delivery, and does have some picnic tables open outside the front of the building.

Apple Blossom Café in Clinton still offers takeout service, but the dining room remains closed. A Facebook post Tuesday says it might reopen next week..

Golden Girls Restaurant, Clinton, is reopening Wednesday, May 6, for dining in and takeout, per Facebook post Tuesday evening.

Gondolier pizza and Italian food in Clinton now says it will reopen the dining room on Monday, May 11. Takeout/curbside pickup is offered.

Self-serve buffet lines must remain shut down for the foreseeable future, along with self-service beverage stations. But Shoney’s in Clinton is operating its food and salad bar by having an employee fill diners’ plates and hand them over at the end of the buffet line. Customers are not allowed to serve themselves, and the buffet menu is limited.

China Inn in Clinton said it would keep its buffet closed for now, but takeout food is available in a separate room at the front of the restaurant, as always.

Mr. Wok Chinese & Hibachi Grill in South Clinton reopened Tuesday, May 5, for takeout only; no date set yet for reopening the dining room.

The restrictions on restaurants reopening under Lee’s Phase One include limiting seating to 50 percent of capacity, with no bars open or live entertainment allowed. Restaurants were being encouraged to have staff wear masks and gloves, and to screen customers with health questions.

Full Phase One opening was set for Friday (May 1), expanding the list to include retail stores and commercial businesses (retail operating at 50 percent capacity), and healthcare/routine dental procedures allowed for people under age 70.

Wednesday (May 6), Hair and nail salons and barber shops are allowed to reopen, along with massage parlors, but by appointment only, and with no more than 10 people allowed inside at a time.

Restaurants and bars serving food can operate at 75 percent capacity, but bar areas and live entertainment must remain closed. Playgrounds, tennis courts and basketball courts may open with social distancing.

Many restaurants remain open for curbside or drive-through pickup, and in some cases, even delivery.

Some fast-food restaurants have begun to open their dining rooms with limited seating.

Here is a list of local dine-in restaurants and their status as far as we know at this time. For up-to-date information, call a restaurant directly or check its website or Facebook page.

--Golden Girls, Clinton, 865-457-3302. Opening Wednesday, May 6, for dining in and takeout, per Facebook post.

--Apple Blossom Café, Clinton, 865-457-5618. No schedule for reopening. Takeout is offered.

--Gondolier (Italian, Greek), Clinton, 865-269-4767. Takeout available; dining room reopening May 11.

--La Sierra (Mexican), Andersonville, 865-494-5500. Still closed except for takeout; no reopening date given.

--Habaneros (Mexican), Clinton, 865-498-0411. Open for dining in and takeout.

--Cracker Barrel, Rocky Top, 865-426-6429. Open for dining in and takeout.

--Gametime Pizza & Subs, Andersonville, 865-494-0540. Open for dining in, takeout and delivery.

--Pizza Plus, Andersonville, 865-498-9889; open for inside dining, takeout and delivery.

--Pizza Express, South Clinton, 865-463-0011. No word yet on dining room reopening. Takeout and delivery remain available.

--Master Donuts & Coffee (doughnuts, pastries, breakfast foods), Clinton, 865-264-4207, open 5 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday. No word yet on inside dining, but most of the business here is takeout anyway.

--Jerry's Market & Deli, Clinton (Sulphur Springs Road), 865-269-5944. Open for inside dining and takeout.

--Riverview Grill, Clinton, 865-463-8550. Dining room open.

--Sweet Café, Norris, 865-498-4008. Open noon-7 p.m. Tues.-Sat. for takeout or free delivery (Norris only). No word yet on when dining room will reopen.

--Vega Café & Smokehaus, Norris, 865-498-4115. Takeout only Wednesday-Saturday noon-7 p.m. No word yet on when dining room will reopen.

--Coal Creek Smokehouse, Rocky Top, 865-630-1442. The restaurant is doing some remodeling; limited outdoor seating is available. No word yet on when inside dining service will resume. Takeout and delivery service are available.

--Dan & Kay’s Wings Café, Rocky Top, 865-630-1781. Open for takeout; the dining room remains closed.

--China Inn, Clinton, 865-457-5331. Open for takeout only. No plans yet on dining room reopening.

--Petro’s Chili & Chips, Clinton, 865-269-5933. Open for takeout only; dining room reopens June 1.

--Hoskins Drug Store, Clinton, 865-457-4340. Curbside food pickup only until Thursday, May 7, when dining room reopens.

--Glenn’s Pizza & Grill, Rocky Top, 865-426-9998. Takeout only for now. Possibly reopening dining room Monday, May 11.

--La Fiesta (Mexican), Rocky Top, 865- 426-8110. Dining room is open. Also still offering takeout.

--El Tepame (Mexican), South Clinton, 865-457-2227. Open for takeout only; spokesman said the restaurant has no plans to reopen the dining room yet.

--Casa Don Pedro (Mexican), Clinton, 865-463-6532, Open for takeout only; no word yet on reopening the dining room.

--Waffle House, Clinton, 865-457-9985, open 24 hours every day. Open for dine-in and takeout.

--Firehouse Subs, Clinton, 865-269-4094; still open for takeout, but no plans yet for reopening of dining room.

--Harrison’s Grill and Bar, Clinton, 865-463-6368. Dining room is open.

--Fuji Asian Cuisine, Clinton, 865-269-5037; telephone recording says it will “consider” reopening on June 1.

--Mr. Wok Chinese Hibachi Grill, South Clinton, 865-457-5616. Open for takeout only as of Tuesday, May 5; dining room reopening date unknown.

--The Vols Diner, Rocky Top, 865-630-1535. Dining room is open.

--Calhoun’s, Oak Ridge, 865-685-0850. Dining room is open.

--E. Claire’s Coffee Shop, Clinton, 865- 269-4374. Dining room opens Thursday, May 7.