Tennessee proud

Our Heritage


We come from a long history of feeding people.

It was the day of the 35 cent, quarter-pound hamburgers, waitresses taking orders in the parking lot and Grandmother Darr's Coconut Cream Pie with her "mile high" meringue.

Originally opened by Joe Darr, Jr, Chow-Time Restaurant was located in Lookout Valley, TN, a small community located at the base of Lookout Mountain. The Darr family split up the nineteen hours a day to manage a continuous line of customers in the 70-seat restaurant. To start the day, the restaurant had a big breakfast selection, specializing in country ham and biscuits.  For lunch and dinner, the Chow-Time had hamburgers, chili, and stew.  When Joe "Ernie" Darr III and his brother, Charlie,  joined the business, they added barbecue to the line-up which involved long nights checking the smoker -- only a fresh pork product entered the doors - no frozen pork, ever!  The desserts kept folks coming back, too. The Chow-Time followed the recipes of Mrs. Darr, and offered apple, German cheese, and – the favorite of many – coconut pies.

The opening of Interstate 24 eventually removed much of the traffic from Cummings Highway. However, Ernie Darr said that the freeway actually caused their business to increase. Their location was near the Interstate, and also near the change in time zones. So, persons having a late lunch on Eastern time or an early lunch on Central could both be satisfied.

In 1965, the Darr’s opened a second Chow-Time Restaurant on McFarland Avenue in Rossville, Georgia.  Fresh fried chicken was an offering at this eatery, which was near Rossville High School. With the school’s cafeteria being too small to serve everyone, students were allowed to leave campus for lunch. The Chow-Time was a popular destination.

The Chow-Time Restaurant on Cummings Highway closed in 1986 after the death of Joe Darr, Jr.   The McFarland Avenue location also was discontinued in recent years. Though the restaurants are no longer there, folks from out of town still stop by, hoping to enjoy some coconut pie.