Marcy Jo’s Mealhouse: Southern Cooking With a Song
Editor’s note (March 8, 2016): This story originally ran in the Fall 2009 issue of Tennessee Home & Farm. We were saddened to learn of the passing of Joey Feek on March 4, 2016, following a long battle with cancer. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family during this difficult time. We have decided to keep Joey’s quotes and photo in the article as it was originally published, since it shows her enthusiasm for and involvement with the restaurant from the start.
The cowbell on the front door jangles loudly when you step in the door at Marcy Jo’s Mealhouse and Bakery. But don’t expect the other customers to notice your arrival. They continue laughing, talking and eating as if they were at home, which is just the way co-owner Marcy Gary likes it.
A Nostalgic Atmosphere
“I think people miss the atmosphere of the old mom-and-pop diners,” says the long-legged redhead, a Midwestern twang revealing her Kansas roots. “There are not a lot of these places left anymore.”
Marcy Jo’s is easy to spot. A friendly white building with brick-red trim and a tin roof, it hugs the edge of the road at the “T” where State Road 99 joins U.S. 431 in Pottsville, a rural community between Chapel Hill and Columbia. A two-seat swing, an old dinner bell and an American flag grace the front porch. Arrive before 2 p.m., and you’ll find the gravel parking lot full of cars.
Inside, a single large room with an upstairs balcony features Marcy’s yard sale finds. Customers crowd around 1950s-style enamel-top tables with mismatched chairs, while a wood-burning stove sits in the middle of the room. Old shelves lining the walls of whitewashed pine speak to the building’s former life as a general store. License plates from all across the country are nailed to the walls and floor.
The Joey + Rory Restaurant Connection
If you experience a little déjà vu upon entering the front door, don’t worry. Marcy’s partner in this venture is none other than her sister-in-law, Joey Martin Feek, the female half of Joey + Rory. Several music videos feature the restaurant, as do the country music duo’s Overstock.com commercials.
Before they opened in January 2007, Marcy and Joey spent hours poring over family recipes. But these days, you’re not likely to find Joey hanging around the restaurant much. Since their appearance on the TV show “Can You Duet,” she and husband Rory (Marcy’s older brother) spend much of their time touring the country and singing their songs.
Rural Eats Worth the Drive
On weekdays, breakfast is served from 7-11 a.m. The lunch menu features a single hearty special that reflects the season. In winter, meatloaf, roast beef and fried chicken appear on set days. Come summertime, selections include barbecued ribs and chicken or fried catfish.
You can get Marcy’s crowd-pleasing pork chops every Thursday. Saturdays guarantee a full house – breakfast is served all day, with specials such as stuffed French toast garnering praise.
While she’s on tour, Joey misses the farm and family restaurant, but the singer feels good about leaving the business in her sister-in-law’s hands.
“Opening the restaurant was Marcy’s dream, and she’s the glue that holds this place together,” Joey says. “But when I come home, I drop by and make biscuits and wait tables. It keeps me grounded.”