Old Delina Country Store’s Charm Keeps Folks Coming Back for More

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Old Delina Country Store & Diner

Photo credit: Nathan Lambrecht

Burgers, fried pies, homemade ice cream, antiques and a big helping of laughter are always on the menu at Old Delina Country Store, located in the Cornersville community of Marshall County. Built circa 1892, a sign on the side of the rustic building welcomes guests to “somewhere in the middle of nowhere.”

An established gathering spot for locals, it took a “newcomer” to save the store when it faced closure several years ago. Larry Payne moved to the area in 1999 and quickly came to appreciate the old store. More than two decades in the Air Force and another two decades in electronics sales didn’t really prepare him to run a restaurant and retail venue – but it sure didn’t stop him, either.

“God gives you what he wants you to have when he wants you to have it,” Payne says, chuckling. “All of a sudden, I’m an independent entrepreneur.”

Payne’s wife, Jeanette, wasn’t quite as amused by his plan in the beginning. Payne recalls her telling him, “If you buy that store, that store is yours. I’m not involved.” Within a week, however, Jeanette pulled up to the store with a load of antiques. “I said, ‘What are you doing?’ She answered, ‘I’m decorating!’”

Old Delina Country Store is truly a family affair. Daughter Jaclyn Payne manages the restaurant and retail offerings, which include everything from grocery staples popular with campers and hunters to the unique antiques and home goods her mother finds for the store.

See more: Why You Should Visit Apple Barn Cider Mill in Sevierville

Mouthwatering selections at a reasonable price have created a loyal following. Payne notes one family from Indiana routes their beach trip through Cornersville every year, just so they can stop to eat.

“Most people these days just like a good burger,” Payne says of the fan-favorite that takes up nearly half the menu, with plenty of twists on the American classic. Other popular comfort foods include thick-cut bologna, chicken fingers and fried green tomatoes. For the health-conscious, there’s a chef’s salad, grilled chicken and plenty of fruit in those delicious fried pies.

Guests with a keen eye often point out a mistake on the menu, which reads “Old Delina Country Stor.” Payne is quick to say the “e” is really silent before sharing the famous typo’s backstory. Recognizing people loved to take pictures out front, Jeanette decided to create a wooden sign featuring the name of the business. After working hard, Jeanette came inside to ask for another little piece of wood. Payne laughingly notes she ran out of space just before squeezing in that last “e,” but he loved the perfectly imperfect sign.

This unique mix of good food, good folks and a good sense of humor continues to draw people off the beaten path to somewhere special in the middle of nowhere.

The Dish on Old Delina Country Store

Location: 4397 John Barnes Rd., Cornersville, TN 37047

Hours: Friday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Phone: (931) 659-6958

Facebook: facebook.com/olddelinacountrystore

Note: Right now, Old Delina Country Store is only open on weekends due to COVID-19 and will probably stay that way for the foreseeable future. They’ve also simplified the menu some, so while catfish is sometimes available, it isn’t a regular item anymore. Many customers come for the burgers and fried pies.

Must-Try Menu Items

  • Already Famous Delina Burger – the classic in ¼-pound and ½-pound sizes.
  • Burgers with a twist, including the Frickle Burger with fried pickles, Egg-Stravagant Burger with eggs any style, Farmhouse Burger with fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese, and, for the brave, the Fire Eater with jalapeños, pepper jack cheese and hot sauce.
  • Eat dessert first, choosing from fruit-filled, chocolate and coconut cream fried pies or homemade ice cream in a variety of popular flavors. Better yet, combine the two for fried pie a la mode.
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich, featuring grilled chicken topped with bacon, ham, swiss cheese, sauteed onions, peppers and mushrooms.

While You’re There

Open by appointment, plan a visit to the Historic Lairdland Farm House with a tour of the 10-room home, gardens, courtyard and Traveler’s Cottage. Visit lairdlandfarmhousecivilwarmuseum.com or call (931) 363-2205 to schedule a personal tour. Note: The tour is not running now, but plans to reopen after the pandemic.

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