Tag Archives: the old mill

The Old Mill Restaurant celebrates 25 years!

A new restaurant began construction in late 1992 along the banks of the Little Pigeon River. A few families got together and formed a partnership to enter into this new venture. That was Al & Mary Nell Blanton, Ben & Patsy Frizzell, and Cotton & Sarah Berrier. They wanted to bring families together in a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere, feed them well and invite them to return. A great place for local families to work was also very important and over the years there have been as many as 4 generations of the same families working here. They also wanted the restaurant to mean something, have a connection, and that is when they came up with The Cornflour Restaurant. The name came from the largest source of inspiration; the grist mill next door. The Old Mill, of course, dates back to 1830 and has been grinding corn since the first turn of the water-powered stones. Cornflour is a sub-product of making grits. Grits are sifted, after being ground, to remove the larger parts of the hull. During this process, the dust that falls to the bottom of the grits machine is called corn flour. The restaurant opened its doors in the fall of 1993.

It was in 1995 when the Stout/Simmons family, who had owned and operated the grist mill and adjoining general store for about 67 years, decided to sell. They wanted us to be the ones to carry on the legacy that they and the other 5 previous owners had built. We were honored to do so and that’s when the name of the restaurant was changed to The Old Mill Restaurant. The mill has always been privately owned and operated. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Tennessee Civil War Trail. The Old Mill itself had many names over its 150 preceding years, and many other industries were house inside the building as well, but more about that in another post. It was in the mid-1950’s that tourism began to really take hold in Pigeon Forge and the name was changed to The Old Mill. Its name and image became synonymous with the town. It’s a name that will stay forever.

For the past 25 years, the very same owners, and many employees who have been with us from the very beginning, and are very much a part of our larger family, have welcomed visitors from all over the world. On our busiest days, we take care of more than 3,000 guests from breakfast to dinner. In the beginning, corn was part of every course of the meal by using the corn flour, grits, cornmeal, and corn. Our customers told us what they loved best about the menu and today every lunch and dinner begins with a bowl of fresh Corn Chowder and a basket of Corn Fritters with maple butter. And, for dessert, we serve over 1200 slices of Pecan Pie a day, along with a fresh baked seasonal cobbler, banana pudding, and chocolate cake.

Over the next few months, we will share some of our quarter of a century history and let you get to know more about some of the fine folks you have probably met when you visited. And, we want to see your memories as well. We invite you to send pictures of your family enjoying some time with us. Please send them to customerservice@old-mill.com. Some of your pictures may be included in an upcoming blog post, on social, or maybe even in print. So, if you send us something, it is with the understanding that you have given us permission to use it.

While we can’t share an anniversary cake with all of you, we can share a recipe so you can make one and your whole family can enjoy it! You may have seen it in the last post. We’ve decided we wanted to celebrate with a cake as synonymous with the Appalachian region as The Old Mill, so we are making the prettiest Apple Stack Cake we’ve ever seen! Be sure and keep your inbox open for us, for that and many other recipes.

Old Mill Historian and 20-year employee, Jimmy Proffitt, can be reached at jimmy@old-mill.com if you have any questions or would like to share any family history connection you may have with The Old Mill.

Ever Wonder What a Grit is?

Here at The Old Mill, our products are milled the old-fashioned way. We grind corn into cornmeal or grits using French Buhr Flint Granite stones, just like this mill has done since 1830. The power comes from the sheer force of the Little Pigeon River being diverted by the dam so the water moves through a turbine, which turns the shafts, wheels, and belt connected to the stones. We then have what is called a “grits machine,” which sifts the grits, removing the hull so you get the heart of the kernel of corn. It is electric-powered today, but originally it was fueled by the power of our big water wheel turning. The iconic water wheel still operates grain elevators, which carry the corn to the stones. We think it’s important to stay true to the way corn has always been ground to feed the residents of the Smoky Mountains. Stone-grinding produces meal and grits with more flavor. In our grits, you can taste the corn! And their stone-ground texture works in all kinds of great recipes, from shrimp and grits to a simple bowl of grits with butter for breakfast.
Grits have been milled in the South ever since the native Americans introduced the settlers to the process. They are the backbone of many great mountain recipes, but you need to see for yourself. Come visit us and have our freshly milled yellow grits for breakfast and take home a bag of the yellow or white grits. If you can’t visit the Smokies, you can always order our grits online. September 2nd is National Grits for Breakfast Day, so plan now and you can celebrate with us!